Thousands come out to support the first ever Vélo Birmingham
Local communities in towns and villages across the Midlands cheered on 15,000 cyclists at the inaugural Vélo Birmingham closed-road cycle sportive, which raised more than £2 million for charity.
The 100-mile cycle started under sun-kissed skies in Birmingham city centre on Sunday, September 24, before taking in spectacular countryside and historic towns in Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Sandwell and Dudley.
Thousands of families and other local residents enjoyed the autumn sunshine to support the event with cheering crowds in Clent, Stourbridge, Belbroughton, Kinver and Bewdley, where streets were adorned with decorated bikes to welcome the cyclists.
The Gardeners’ Arms pub in Droitwich Spa held a street party to celebrate Vélo Birmingham with a real ale festival and barbecue.
Vélo Birmingham’s four gold charities – Cure Leukaemia, Alzheimer’s Society, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity Birmingham and NSPCC – along with many other charities will receive an estimated £2 million raised by cyclists taking part on their behalf.
The inaugural event helped reinforce Birmingham’s credentials as a host of large-scale events such as the Commonwealth Games after the city recently won the race to be chosen as England’s candidate city for the 2022 Games.
Interim Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said:
“My congratulations to everyone who completed the inaugural Vélo Birmingham cycle.
“It was great to see the 15,000 cyclists cross the start line and hear about so many people coming out to support the cyclists along the route.
“This was an absolute success for the city and our Partners. Given that this weekend we hosted the Archery GB National Series final at Eastside City Park, the Birmingham Weekender arts festival and Vélo Birmingham, it yet again underlines the city’s ability to host major events and is why we will deliver a 2022 Commonwealth Games the whole country can be proud of.”
Among those crossing the Broad Street finish line was England Rugby World Cup-winning captain and Vélo Birmingham Ambassador Martin Johnson.
Martin took part in the Business 100 challenge, which saw over 100 companies take part in the event in teams of four. It is anticipated the Business 100 will raise over £100,000 for good causes.
“It was a really good British ride – out through the city, quite hilly, lovely countryside, nice towns and villages.
“It was always up or down, so it was a tough course. The last 25 miles was hard, so it was a real achievement for everyone riding today. It’s a real privilege to ride closed roads, with no cars.
"There were also a lot of people out on the course. Going through some of the towns, there were thousands of people out cheering on the cyclists.
“It was quite a community event, lots of people out, sitting on their lawn chairs with a cup of tea or whatever, cheering you on, so it was really good.”
Former England, Wolves and Crystal Palace footballer, blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas was one of those taking part on Sunday.
Geoff cycled the 3 Tours Challenge this summer and Vélo Birmingham was the final leg of his cycling exploits in 2017.
Cure Leukaemia had a team of 600 taking on the 100-mile route and all funds raised from riders will go towards the charity’s £1 million appeal to expand the globally-significant Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Jon Ridgeon, Executive Chairman of CSM Active, organisers of Vélo Birmingham, said:
“We would like to thank all of our Local Authority partners for helping us make the first ever Vélo Birmingham a truly unforgettable event for the Midlands.
“It was incredible to witness communities right along the route embrace the event and cheer on the thousands of riders who were taking on this epic challenge.
“Our riders have raised around £2 million for both local and national charities which is an incredible achievement and of course we thank them for their heroic efforts.
“Vélo Birmingham will return next year and we have no doubt that it will be even more exceptional than the inaugural edition.
“This event has the potential to be one of the world’s most iconic cycling events, a stalwart event in the British sporting calendar and a fantastic shop window for the Midlands and we look forward to working with our Local Authority partners to help make this vision a reality.”
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