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Cycling Legend Boardman Enjoys Day in the Saddle at Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia

by Nick Gregory

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Two-time Olympic medal winner and ITV cycling presenter, Chris Boardman lined up alongside 5,250 cyclists this weekend to tackle the 81 mile Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, one of the UK's premier closed road sportives. 

The event, which starts and finishes in the Highland Perthshire town of Pitlochry, is widely regarded as one of the most stunning in the UK and gives cyclists a chance to ride in pelotons on safe, closed roads. 

The ride gave him a great chance to tackle the infamous 'Schiehallion' climb. He also had the opportunity to speak to the enthusiastic spectators and participants - who range from novice to club athletes, an experience that will no doubt help him when preparing for his coverage of the Tour de France 2014. 

Finishing the event in 3hr 49m, the five times Tour de France competitor commented: "It was great. The weather really helped - we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to the weather in the Northern Hemisphere and this was as good as it gets. Great roads, lots of people looking after each other and working together - a much more pleasurable ride than the Tour de France, I'll definitely be back next year." 

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The sports presenter was joined by former Scotland rugby union International Rob Wainwright, who rode alongside a team of 24 riders - many of whom were fundraising for Official Charity Partner Marie Curie Cancer Care. 

Wainwright said: "I did the event last year and really enjoyed it so I had to come back with the team. The scenery in this part of the world is incredible, and it's an amazing ride when you get a little luck with the weather. Lots of the guys are raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and it's great to see so many people contributing to such a great cause."

The extremely popular event, now in its eighth year, was the first closed road cycling event in the UK and has been immensely popular in recent years with general entries selling out in as little as eight hours. 

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James Robinson, Managing Director at IMG Challenger World, said: "We are absolutely delighted with how well the eighth edition of Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia went this weekend. The event continues to be immensely popular amongst cyclists from all over the world, and you can see why with the stunning scenery on the route and the festival atmosphere at the finish line in Pitlochry. It was fantastic to see a cycling legend like Chris Boardman enjoying the unique opportunity to ride on traffic free roads and I'm sure other cyclists relished the opportunity to speak with him during the course of the day." 

Marie Curie Cancer Care is the Official Charity Partner of the Etape Series. Etape Caledonia and Etape Pennines both encourage participants to raise vital funds which enable Marie Curie Nurses to provide free nursing care and support to terminally ill people and their families in communities across the UK. 

Marie Curie Cancer Care Director of Fundraising, Fabian French said: "Marie Curie Cancer Care is delighted to be the charity partner for the Etape Series for the third time. We are grateful to all the riders who conquered the Etape challenges over the last two years and fundraised for us. So far, they have raised a fantastic £860,000, which has helped Marie Curie provide 43,000 hours of free nursing care." 

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Prospective participants for the 2015 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia are able to register their interest now. Those who register will get an exclusive 24 hour window to enter the event when places go on sale later this year, and with general entries selling out in just 8 hours this year, those 24 hours could make all the difference. 

Visit www.etapecaledonia.co.uk for more information and to register.