Scrum on down! Rugby World Cup winning Johnson launches new 100-mile closed road ride at Goodwood

Martin Johnson Cycle

Scrum on down! That was the message from Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson as he helped launch the inaugural Vélo South – a new 100-mile closed road ride starting and finishing at Goodwood.

The event was officially launched at the London Bike Show today by  Johnson CBE and British cycling icon and 1982 UCI World Road Race champion Mandy Jones.

Taking place on Sunday 23rd September, Vélo South will take 15,000 riders of all ability levels on a truly unforgettable journey through the stunning West Sussex countryside, starting and finishing on the iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit and featuring the magnificent rolling hills of the South Downs National Park.

With around 1,700m of climbing, the Vélo South route is a relatively challenging one, but the beauty of the route, support from the locals and camaraderie with fellow riders will make for a truly unforgettable day of closed road riding.

And with thousands of participants expected to travel from across the UK to experience Vélo South, the event will help raise the profile of West Sussex towns, villages and countryside as a great place to visit and provide a boost for tourism.

The start and finish venue is steeped in motor racing history. But it also has credentials of the cycling kind, playing host to the 1982 World Road Race Championships; the last time the road world championships were held in Britain.

Martin Johnson

The women’s championship that year was won by Mandy Jones, who unveiled the event alongside Johnson. Organised by CSM Active, Vélo South is the latest event in the Vélo Series, following the hugely successful inaugural Vélo Birmingham sportive in September 2017.

Aside from Ride London, Vélo South is the only other opportunity to ride 100 miles on closed roads in the UK in 2018. With more than 25,000 pre-registrations received to date, Vélo South is expected to sell-out fast when entries open on Thursday March 1. To be in with a chance of taking part prospective participants must pre-register.

Prospective participants will also have the option of entering through one of Vélo South’s Lead Charity Partners – Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and the British Heart Foundation. There will also be a Vélo South Business 100 entry option which provides companies with the opportunity to enjoy a VIP participation experience coupled with exclusive training events and networking opportunities.

Vélo Series ambassador Johnson  said: “As a cycling fanatic, it’s hugely exciting to yet another 100-mile closed road sportive come to the UK. Having ridden the inaugural Vélo Birmingham, I know first-hand how exhilarating it is to ride on closed roads and I can’t wait to be one of 15,000 riders lined up on Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit on September 23rd.

“My advice to anyone who is tempted to enter but is doubting their ability to complete 100 miles would be to just take the plunge and go for it! I speak from experience when I say that with the right training it’s an extremely achievable goal. Completing a century ride is a huge accomplishment and the feeling when you cross the finish line will be worth all the hard work.”

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “We are delighted to be hosting Vélo South in our wonderful county. West Sussex is a place of culture, heritage and beautiful countryside – the perfect setting to enjoy a day of closed road riding. We’re looking forward to working with CSM Active to make the event a success and to introducing participants to the delights of our county.”

Cllr Eileen Lintill, cabinet member for communities at Chichester District Council, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming this exciting event to our district. The event promises to be one of the UK’s biggest cycling events and is an excellent opportunity to showcase our stunning area, encourage cycling, bring communities together and embrace a new and exciting event.

“With potentially 15,000 participants taking part in the event, we also hope that it will bring significant economic benefits to the businesses within our district.”

About the Author

Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.