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Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge Partners With Le Tour de France Owners

by Holly Blades

The guardians of the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge and the Lakes Road Club have decided, after nurturing the legend of Fred through this iconic sportive since 1999, to team up with mass event organisers Human Race, owned by Le Tour de France owners (Amaury Sport Organisation), to help continue to develop the event for many years to come.

Human Race (part of A.S.O. - owners of Le Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix and L'Etape du Tour) deliver sportives across the UK, including: Dragon Ride L'Etape Wales by Le Tour de France, Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival and the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride.

The Steering Group of the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge, the 112 mile, iconic cycle ride in the Lake District, have placed their Challenge event in the hands of the mass event organiser Human Race.  The event has built its reputation through putting cyclists over some of the most gruelling climbs in the UK positioned in contrast to the breathtaking scenery.  2,500 cyclists enter this sell out event each year, and since its inception in 1999, over one and a quarter million pounds has been raised and shared by Macmillan Cancer Support, The Mountain Rescue, Air Ambulance, and various Youth Cycling Projects. 

Each year, an incredible steering group of volunteers, led by Paul 'Lofty' Loftus have delivered the sportive to world class standards working alongside huge amounts of local support and love to give it the personality that makes it so famous. 

The Steering Group have now decided to pass on the organisation to an organiser whose proven passion and expertise in cycling and other mass participation events, should help the event develop for many years to come - whilst also committing to the charitable ethos the event has always maintained.  Human Race are owned by Amaury Sport Organisation, a family owned business which has been historically linked with the sport of cycling. After discussions with Human Race and legal representatives a formal contract has been agreed which as mentioned keeps our ethos and our charitable commitments without any compromise but will it is believed further develop the Challenge. 

(Back L-R) Carl Ballantyne, Rob Spencer, Nigel Lanaghan, Steve Sim (Front L-R) Chris Gill, Paul Loftus MBE, Carolyn Brown, Lynne Whitton, Paddy Gannon

Some immediate input from Human Race into the 2017 edition will mean the event will be broadcast on the Bike Channel for many others to marvel at this astonishing feat of human endeavour that thousands take on each year. 

Paul Loftus, MBE President of the Fred Whitton Challenge said: "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 achieve over the years with the event, and that we can still now raise money for all the charity's 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" 

A big thank you should go to all the sponsors that have generously supported us over the years, and the fantastic help we receive from our large band of volunteers, without them it would never happen." 

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." 

Andy Wigmore, Saddleback Managing Director explained: "We have looked forward to every event over the years, and our team has always given their all to assist and support in every way possible. We have invested a lot of time into the event and we are very proud to be working alongside Paul and his team. To be involved and see the event welcome new partners, Human Race, is exciting for all involved, but the riders especially."

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