We’ve compiled a list of some of the best sportives in the UK for 2021, all being well. The last 12 months have been a near write-off and so if you haven’t already, it’s time to look ahead, refocus on new goals and start building towards your target events.

We’ve tried to cover as much of the UK as possible within our list, whilst showcasing a range of sportives each offering something different to the rider. So, in no particular order, our top UK Sportives for 2021 are:

Fred Whitton Challenge, 9th May 2021

Starting with a familiar name to many, the Fred Whitton Challenge is possibly the UK’s most popular sportive, offering a tough 113-mile test around the Lake District. An area renowned for its tough terrain, the parcours takes you over some of the region’s toughest tests, riding gradients of up to 30%.

The organisers themselves set the tone for what you’re in for. “We make no bones about the ride, it is hard, and will probably be the hardest one day ride you will ever complete. It will take a lot of effort and willpower to finish the event, please don’t take it lightly, and don’t attempt it if it’s your first sportive.”

Find out more about the event and how to enter here.

Dulux London Revolution, 15-16th May 2021

If you’re looking for something a little different in the form of a multi-day adventure then the Dulux London Revolution offers a weekend on two wheels around the capital. Introduced in 2018, the event tackles a 155-mile loop of London, with the option to ride the full route in one go if you’re up for the challenge.

Not necessarily the most testing of routes in terms of climbing, although there’s still a fair share of ascent around the route, the event will take you on a stunning lap over a distance not to be taken lightly.

Find out more.

Dirty Reiver, 17th April 2021

If your attention has turned to gravel riding over the past few seasons then the popular Dirty Reiver gravel sportive in Northumberland offers up three distances around the stunning Kielder Forest area. Choose between the Dirty Reiver 200 (200km), Dirty One Thirty (130km) and the Dirty Sixty Fiver (65km), each of which see riders traverse the gravel forest access roads that service the vast areas of forest covering the border region of England and Scotland.

At 200km, the longest route presents a huge self-supported day in the saddle, with a 10pm cut off time limit – some 14-hours after the 8am start time. Not for the faint hearted.

Find out more.

Gritfest, 19-20th June 2021

Staying on the off-road theme, the Gritfest event in Wales offers a two-day format with timed sections to test yourself against the rest of the field. The two days of riding cover 130km in total, split over 80km on day 1 and 50km on day 2. The test comes with the hilly terrain across both days over the Cambrian Mountains – 1,900m on the first day and 1,200m on the second.

Discover the event and routes here.

The Dragon Ride, 6th June 2021

From one Welsh event to another, The Dragon Ride is another of the UK’s most popular and toughest one-day sportives. Already sold out for 2021 but it had to make our list for its scenic and spicy route. Riders can choose between a number of distances, with the toughest covering a mighty 304km covering 10 climbs, totalling 4,351m ascent – a slightly new route for 2021 making it the toughest Dragon Ride to date.

Other routes on offer, each tough in their own right, include the Gran Fondo at 210km and over 3,000m of ascent; the Medio Fondo at 157km and 2,111m of climbing; and the Macmillan 100 with 1,212m of climbing.

Find out more here.

Etape Loch Ness, 25th April 2021

Heading north, Scotland’s Etape Loch Ness covers a 106km closed-road route around the famous Loch. As one of the few closed-road sportives available in the UK, Etape Loch Ness presents riders with a stunning route offering its own tests, including a timed King of the Mountains section 55km into the route, up the event’s toughest climb going upwards for 9km with gradients of up to 12% at times.

Much like many cyclosportives in 2021, due to the rolling over of entries from postponed events in 2020, the event is already sold out. But it remains one for the to do list regardless.

Find out more here.

Etape Loch Ness
Image credit Etape Loch Ness

Rutland CiCLE Tour Classic, 24th April 2021

Based in England’s smallest county, the Rutland CiCLE Tour Classic takes in some Belgian Classic-esque cobbles along each of its three distances. The Long Route covers 162.4km and takes in 1,794m of ascent; the Medium Route takes in 126.9km and 1,355m of climbing; while the Short Route sees riders cover 65.1km and 761m of elevation gain.

The route takes in much of the same parcours as the Rutland – Melton International CiCLE Classic elite race, tackled by the UK’s best domestic pro riders the day after you ride the route. All in all the event offers a great weekend of cycling to enjoy.

Find out more here.

Dartmoor Classic Sportive, 20th June 2021

For those looking for events in the South West, the Dartmoor Classic is a great place to start. Since the inaugural event in 2007, this ride has grown into one of the UK’s most popular events given its scenic routes and difficult parcours. Riders can choose between three distances, 177km, 109km or 62km.

Dartmoor is renowned for not only its constantly rolling terrain, but also for its exposed roads over the Moors offering little respite if there’s a bit of wind blowing. With 2,880m of climbing on the longest route and gradients of up to 20%, be prepared to dig deep for this one.

Find out more here.

Following the postponement of the vast majority of sportives in 2020 during the pandemic most events have rolled over entries into 2021 making it difficult to find General Entry places for the most popular events. However, you can often still find charity places for many of the events – a good option at a time when charities need our help with fundraising more than ever.

If you’re looking to tackle an event and want to structure your training with the help of an experienced coach to get the most out of yourself then get in touch today. We’d love to chat about building a bespoke plan to suit both your needs and your lifestyle.

You can also read our list of seven of the best UK triathlons to do in 2021 here.

Lead image credit Dragon Ride.