Rapha and EF
Cycling with character.
A pioneering group of EF Education First Pro Cycling riders are to intersperse performances in the WorldTour with global adventure, visiting the most exciting events and races in modern cycling.01 January 2019
From mountain bike epics to week-long ultras, professional riders from the EF team will race a calendar of alternative, mixed-terrain, multi-discipline events in the 2019 season as part of the team’s partnership with Rapha. The collaboration, launched with a mutual ambition to change the presentation and appeal of professional cycling, will see the characters in the team race at mass-participation events all over the world. And Rapha will be there along the way, capturing every moment of their adventure in an exclusive series of films. The calendar is set to include:
Founded in 2006 and one of the most daunting rides in the United States, the Kansas-based epic – run by Life Time events – sees more than 2,000 people tackle a 200-mile parcours made up almost entirely of gravel. Participants face more than 3,000m of off-road climbing in the notorious Flint Hills, as famous for their relentless undulation as their tyre-shredding surface. With winning times regularly well above 10 hours and a hugely varied field of riders, it is among the most challenging and progressive events in the sport.
Staying stateside but travelling west, high into the Rocky Mountains, our riders will tackle the Leadville 100, a mountain bike race respected and feared in equal measure. Participants face a 100-mile route through the most challenging terrain in Colorado, all at oxygen-sapping high altitude. Also run by Life Time, Leadville is an epic out-and-back that awards a belt buckle to all those who make it to the end.
Cyclocross has long been an obsession for many at Rapha, with the first autumn leaves marking the arrival of the much-anticipated cross season. Among the most eagerly awaited events of the calendar is the legendary Three Peaks, held every September in the Yorkshire Dales. Billed as the biggest and toughest cyclocross event in the UK, the race is just 38 miles long but includes 4 miles of unrideable terrain and a course that stretches the very definition of bike racing.
Notorious among professional and amateur riders alike, the Taiwan KOM has quickly become a mecca for climbers since its inaugural race in 2012. Held every year around November, it sees hundreds of cyclists attempt to ride one of the longest climbs in the world, ascending more than 3,000 metres in just 100km. It is rare in road cycling as an event that sees elite, WorldTour riders set off under the same starting gun as any amateur attempting the feat. Won in 2017 by Vincenzo Nibali, it will be a major test for even the best climbers on the team.
Rapha and the EF team are also planning to explore even further flung fringes of cycling’s racing culture, from the Belgian town races in the early season all the way to the most challenging ultra-endurance races that span entire continents. We will cap of the year with an off-season training camp just as adventurous; one that fits the spirit of the alternative calendar.
Cycling with character.
In a vintage year for road racing, Rapha founder and CEO Simon Mottram picks his top moments of panache.
150,000 square miles, 28,000 people, four riders, one road – an extraordinary adventure to the edge of the world.
As Sky calls time on professional cycling, Jeremy Whittle reflects on the state of a sport suddenly left without its dominant force – and the long descent that looms after Britain’s climb to the top of WorldTour.