AFTER a hiatus of two decades, the once popular Isle of Wight Road Race is back, with the hope it will become an established event on the national cycling calendar.

The inaugural Wightlink-Wight Mountain Isle of Wight Road Race will be staged on Sunday, May 21.

It follows almost a year of discussions between the Wightlink-Wight Mountain Cycle Race Team (WWMCRT) and British Cycling to bring back the event.

It is quite a coup for the Island, with British Cycling awarding the race as part of the South District's competitive cycling calendar.

Following the bitter disappointment of the Island losing the prestigious final leg of the 2022 Tour of Britain — and being awarded to Wales, rather than reinstate it on the Isle of Wight this year — the decision of British Cycling has given great cause for optimism. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

The Isle of Wight Road Race will comprise two separate Regional A races for Category 2,3 and 4 women (70km) and men (80km), on a sporting course around the scenic roads of the West Wight.

The course will take in some of the iconic roads which were to be used for the final stage of the Tour of Britain.

The riders will roll out in convoy from Chessell Pottery Cafe, a WWMCRT backer, and start racing once they hit the Military Road — continuing to do circuits, via Chale, Shorwell and Brighstone. 

The final loop will take them over Brook Shute, to finish at the top of the first steep climb at Freshwater Bay. 

The race, designed for amateur riders, is predicted to attract some of the top cyclists in the South of England.

Isle of Wight County Press:

It will also be a great opportunity for Island riders to compete on their 'home' roads — considered some of the best in the country.

Co-organisers of the Island race, Jerry and Julie Cooper, said British Cycling has been supportive throughout the planning of the event and are also keen to get racing back on the Island.

"We haven’t had a race here for 20 years," said Julie. 

"This is fantastic for the Isle of Wight — especially following the disappointment of the final stage of the Tour of Britain being cancelled in September last year.

"The event will give the Island’s cycling community the opportunity to race against some of the UK’s top riders on their local roads.

Isle of Wight County Press:

"We’re really excited about bringing road racing back to the Island after a 20-year absence and hope this new road race will become an established annual event on the national cycling calendar."

Wightlink has played a major role in establishing "a level playing field" for mainland teams, by providing ferry concessions, to enable them to race on the Island.

A number of teams have already signed up to the event. 

Phil Delaney, Wightlink's commercial director, said: “As long-standing supporters of the WWMCRT, we're really pleased they've secured this prestigious British Cycling event for the Island. 

"It is yet another reason to visit and, is an event that will once again raise the profile of the Island as a great place to come and enjoy cycling. 

"We hope it will become a firm fixture in the Island’s sporting calendar.”

The Isle of Wight Road Race is being run by a team, culled from a huge network of volunteers from the local cycling community.

The event has also been well supported by Island businesses, sponsoring the prizes.

WWMCRT's charity partner, Mountbatten, is set to benefit from funds raised from the event.