After many years of being run by volunteers, the Fred Whitton Challenge has teamed up with Human Race, the UK arm of Tour de France owners, ASO.
Launched in 1999, the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge is a somewhat infamous (in a good way) 112-mile ride through the Lake District, taking in a good few of the country’s most gruelling climbs.
2,500 cyclists enter each year and over £1.25m has been raised and shared by Macmillan Cancer Support, The Mountain Rescue, Air Ambulance and various youth cycling projects over the years.
The event has long been run by a steering group of volunteers, led by Paul ‘Lofty’ Loftus, but they have now decided to pass on the organisation in the hope that the event will continue to develop for many years to come.
A contract has been agreed which will keep the Fred Whitton’s ethos and charitable commitments.
Loftus commented: “Myself, the steering group and the Lake Road Club are excited that the future of the Challenge has been secured for years to come. We feel that in teaming up with Human Race we have a partner that will respect the ideals that we have achieved over the years with the event, and that we can still now raise money for all the charities that we have successfully supported in the past.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would be in this position today were we would have to ballot riders for places in the event, and that the organisers of Le Tour de France are aware of our event in Cumbria. Fred would be smiling and would probably have used his famous phrase: ‘A Good Effort.’”
Human Race organises a number of major sportives across the UK, including Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France, the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival and the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride.
Part of the deal will see the 2017 edition of the Fred Whitton Challenge broadcast on the Bike Channel.
Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race said: “At Human Race, we are delighted and honoured to form this partnership with Fred’s wife, Lynn, and the steering group behind this iconic ride.
“We’ve been involved with many superb sportives over the years but none with as much personality and love behind the scenes as the Fred Whitton Challenge. Anyone who calls themselves a rider, or who loves a great adventure and challenge on two wheels should do this event.”