Eastbourne cycling festival runaway success

EASTBOURNE’S first ever Cycling Festival proved a hit with the biking community last week.

The event attracted more than 300 riders in the Cyclosportive, 150 for the Watt Bike Challenge, 100 taking on the road races, more than 30 testing their speed in the time trials, and 20 battling it out at the Afton Hotel’s Rollapaluza evening.

The inaugural event for Eastbourne included a variety of activities, from the wattbike challenge to a stunt bike display from Bob and Banner, and from the Go-ride Challenge to the evening Rollapaluza.

Visitors and cyclists enjoyed mild sunny weather on Saturday, while Sunday’s breeze made the 50, 80 and 106 mile sportive and road races even more challenging.

The Go-Ride Challenge in the Festival Village was popular with families as children navigated their way around an obstacle course to improve their cycling skills and the South East Youth Circuit Championships promoted by VC Jubilee Youth Development Cycling Club attracted a strong level of entries.

In a selection event for the Inter-Regional Road Championships, 59 riders took part with the Youth A riders hoping to be selected for the South East Youth Team to compete at the championships in Perth in July.

Eastbourne Borough Council cabinet member for tourism, Councillor Neil Stanley said, “We were very pleased to work alongside sponsor the Tri Store as well as many cycling partners to stage the first ever Cycling Festival for Eastbourne. It was brilliant to show such a wide variety of ways for people to get involved in cycling.

“Whether visitors just wanted to enjoy a genteel bike ride, watch unicyclists in action, or were experienced cyclists coming to Eastbourne to take on the sportive, it was great to see so many riding their bikes this weekend.”

Bob and Banner, trials riders, created a spectacle in the Festival Village on Saturday and Sunday with displays of breathtaking tricks and stunts over a course of scaffolding, skips and pallets, using special trials bikes, which have no saddle.

Sixty cyclists took on the Eastbourne Grand Prix Road Race on the Sunday, riding 10 fast laps of the closed road circuit before departing over Beachy Head, including a climb up Dukes Drive, fast descent into East Dean, twisty ascent to the summit of Beachy Head and a speedy descent back down to finish in King Edward’s Parade. Mike Coyle, from Brighton Mitre, crossed the line quickest to take first place.

A further 40 riders took part in the Eastbourne Criterium, aimed at fourth category riders, featuring laps around the closed road circuit centred around King Edward’s Parade and the Grand Hotel with George Thomas of Crawley Wheelers Cycling Club finishing in first place.

The Come and Try It Time Trial hosted by Eastbourne Rovers Cycling Club saw more than 30 riders take on one-mile laps around the closed road circuit. Adrian Elliott finished three laps of the circuit quickest in eight minutes 25 seconds, while the event also saw entries from tandem duo Doug Staplehurst and Ross Nowark finishing in 13 minutes 16 seconds and unicyclist Martin Watson who finished in 18 minutes 53 seconds.

The Watt Bike Challenge attracted 152 entrants across the weekend with Slawomir Giecewicz winning the male 250m sprint and Emma Rix winning the female 250m sprint. The Beat the Car Commuter Challenge was won by Nick Jameson-Allen who beat the car by 10 seconds.

Eastbourne Cycling Festival was supported in sponsorship by the Tri Store and run in association with and supported by British Cycling, Eastbourne Rovers Cycling Club, Pedal Power, Bespoke, SRS Events, On The Rivet, Hankham Motors, Bufferra, Shock Absorber, Afton Hotel, Eastbourne Hospitality Association, Ashprint, C. N. Pettett (Builder & Decorator), Haulaway Ltd, Eastbourne Scaffolding Ltd, Eastbourne Tyres Ltd and The Classic Cycle Group.