Sign up for our newsletter


Sportive Planner: Tour of Ayrshire

3 Jan 2017

Head to southern Scotland for the latest addition to the UCI Gran Fondo series and qualify for the amateur World Championships!

When:  29th and 30th April 2017

Where: Kilmarnock

Distance: 113km 

Cost: Gran Fonso £55 (rises after 1st December), Chrono £45

What’s it all about?

Based 20 miles south of Glasgow in Kilmarnock at Kay Park, home to the impressive monument to Robert Burns, the Tour of Ayrshire is the latest Gran Fondo from the organisers of the immensely successful Tour of Cambridgeshire. Gran Fondo events are a big deal on the continent, mainly in Italy (where they originated) and France, some privately run and some part of the UCI series, such as this one. As it’s run as a competitive race up front with a sportive for all abilities following behind, you can expect the field to include everyone from those looking to attempt their first sportive to local racers, ex-professionals and those looking to compete in the Gran Fondo World Championships, of which this is a qualifying event. The top 25% of finishers in each age group will be offered a place at the championships, which will be held in Albi, France, next August. 

Best of all, the weekend’s main events will be run on completely closed roads, adding to the pro feel and ensuring a safe ride for all, with lead cars, fully supported route and chip timing, plus the usual benefits such as feed stops, mechanical support and broom wagons. For the racers up front there are some serious prizes on offer, for the rest of us a commemorative medal. As well as the Gran Fondo on Sunday, the weekend’s cycling festivities also include the Chrono on Saturday morning. 

Chrono? What’s that, then?

Simply put, it’s a time trial run to UCI professional standards. This is nothing like your standard club 10-miler on the local bypass, with a chap sitting by the side of the road with a stopwatch and a clipboard. The Tour of Ayrshire Chrono is more like what you see on TV at the Tour de France, other Grand Tours or the Olympics. Just you against the clock, you’ll set off down a pro-style start ramp onto the course and smash out the best effort you can, perfecting your best Bradley Wiggins or Tony Martin impression as you race over the rolling 20km route to the line in front of cheering crowds, adding to the thrill of the experience. Additionally, the Chrono contains a highly produced ‘Chrono Warm Up’ area with a substantial number of Turbo trainers – the professional mechanics set your bikes up on the turbos and take them off for your start. 500 places are available and on previous events they have sold out quickly, so if this is your thing don’t wait too long!

Where does the Gran Fondo take me?

There are two routes on offer, the race category tackles a 113km (70.5 mile) course, while riders on the sportive can attempt the same course or a shortened Medio-Fondo version. All start from Kay Park heading out into the beautiful East Ayrshire countryside. We rode a section of the route earlier this year on a preview event and it didn’t disappoint. Heading away from Kay Park wasn’t any trouble, even with open roads, and once into the countryside the rolling terrain and scenery were worth the trip, with a particular highlight passing through the village of Sorn on the river Ayr. The climbing wasn’t too steep but wasn’t too easy either and with just over 1,200m elevation on the 113km course, it isn’t too difficult or demanding, so all in all it’ll make for a fabulous day out on the bike. 

What else is there?

The Tour of Ayrshire is based around a festival, with a pop-up village offering plenty for all the family. In addition to the cycling, there’s a Colour Run on Saturday afternoon, suitable for all ages – put on the white T-shirt supplied then run or walk through a 5km course in the park, featuring zones where you will be covered in a rainbow of flying paint. You are then invited to show off your work of art at the after party, with entertainment from a huge sound system while enjoying a drink with your friends and family – go easy, though, as it’s back on the bike in the morning!

Who’s involved?

Organised by major event specialists Golazo, the event is also fully backed by Scottish Cycling, East Ayrshire Council and the Braveheart Fund, which helps up and coming young Scottish cyclists, and administered by ex-professional Brian Smith. With such heavy-hitters and big organisations working together this one promises to be a cracker.

Read more about: