If you’re looking for a cycling goal, a sportive makes an excellent target.

In this article we share our pick of the best UK sportives of 2023 (and a couple in Ireland too). Some are well known and will need no introduction, whilst some are relatively new to the scene but provide something different.

2023 updates

Our 2023 pick of sportives thankfully looks quite similar to the 2022 list, as sportives began to return after a year or so of hiatus. However, after so many events were cancelled due to Covid in 2020 and 2021, sadly some of the events that were previously on our favourites list are no more.

Let’s cross our fingers that we are now almost back to normal and that this year’s sportive calendar will go ahead as planned. One thing’s for certain – the organisers will undoubtedly be doing everything they can to ensure there are no more cancellations…

A spread of events

For the benefit of cyclists all over the UK and Ireland, we have tried our best to select sportives from each geographical region.

We know there will be plenty of other events that would undoubtedly qualify as being one of the best sportives in the UK and Ireland, but unfortunately, we can’t cover them all; let us know in the comments below which ones you think we should add on our next update of this article!

If you’d like a nice reminder of your sportive, these beautiful GPX-based prints are a great idea. More details at the bottom of this article!

You’ll see that we refer to some distances in miles and some in kilometres. This reflects how they’re advertised on the official event websites.

This article includes details of products and/or services that we have used ourselves or which we would consider. Some are paid features or include affiliate links where if you click on a link and make a booking or buy something, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.

In the interests of complete transparency, we haven’t (yet!) cycled all of the routes/events in this article. If you have ridden any of these, let us know in the comments below!

All metrics in this article are approximate.


London and south east sportives

Hampshire Hilly Hundred

Location: Sparsholt Collect, Winchester, Hampshire
Date: 7 May 2023
Distance: 67 and 100 miles
Where to stay: The Running Horse, Winchester (Book here)
Cost: £30-32

Our view

Here’s a great opportunity to train with a purpose through the spring months with a focus on getting an early season 100 miles under your belt.

The Hilly Hundred is set in the beautiful South Downs National Park. It features three challenging climbs: Butser Hill, Beacon Hill and Old Winchester Hill. With elevation on the 100-mile route at around 1,250 metres (there is a 67-mile alternative) you don’t need to be a mountain goat to get around, so it’s a perfect appetiser for the summer.

The course has chipped timing, full mechanical support, a medal, and feed stations helping to make it one of the best Hampshire sportives around.


The Hilly Hundred is a great early season 100 miler with challenging climbs.

Ride London

Location: London
Date: 28 May 2023
Distance: 100 miles
Where to stay: Central London hotels (book here)
Cost: £99

Our view

RideLondon is back for 2023! On 28th May you can ride 100 miles of one of the best closed roads sportives in the UK in 2023 through the heart of London and the neighbouring county of Essex.

Unfortunately the ballot for the race has already closed, but keep an eye out as places may open up again.

The route both begins and ends in the heart of London. There will also be 60 miles of villages and picturesque Essex landscape.

Due to the professional road races taking place over the same weekend and because you get the opportunity to ride on closed roads through the streets of the capital city, the Prudential Ride London is regarded as one of the best sportives in the UK. It is, however, extremely difficult to gain a starting berth, with the 25,000 places being snapped up very quickly, unless of course you are prepared to apply for a charity place.

It’s more expensive than the standard sportive in the UK in 2023 at £99 per entrant but it’s one of those events that cyclists aspire to complete at least once in their life.

More information

Although we don’t know the revised route yet, you can check out our guide to the hills that have previously been in RideLondon, here. Bear in mind these were predominantly in Surrey while the newer route is in Essex though!


RideLondon (now sponsored by Ford not Prudential!) is an excellent choice for rubbing shoulders with the pros and riding one of the best UK closed roads sportives in 2023.




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South west sportives

The Cotswolds Classic

Location: TBC
Date: 19 August 2023
Distance: 59km, 82km and 118km
Where to stay: Fire Service College (book here)
Cost: £25-40

Our view

There aren’t many destinations in the UK that beat the Cotswolds in the spring, and one of the benefits of this event is that the routes barely leave this area of natural beauty as they meander through the undulating terrain.

The event offers three different routes to cater for all abilities, with the longest route running 118km with an elevation gain of 1,449 metres.

It also has a chipped timing system, mechanical and medical support and post ride goodies as well as feed stops and free event photography.


Beautiful countryside and a nice variety of routes are likely to make this a popular choice.

Dartmoor Legend Ultra Sportive

Location: Dartmoor
Date: 8 July 2023
Distance: 200 miles
Where to stay: Duchy House, Princetown (book here)
Cost: £100

Our view:

A new breed of sportive that is already popular on the continent has started to make its way into the UK sportives calendar in 2023: the ultra endurance sportive.

The Dartmoor Legend Ultra is certainly not for the faint hearted, with 200 miles, 5,500 metres of elevation and gradients of 25% on some climbs. This event is for extremely fit and competent riders who are comfortable with a very long day in the saddle.

Not only is this an ultra-endurance challenge it is also against the clock, with riders who don’t maintain a certain average speed being asked to retire. You can start between 4am and 5am and are required to finish before midnight, making it one of the toughest UK sportives in 2023.

The field is limited to just 200 riders who must pre-book in advance of the event. The route includes geo tracking, five feed stations and mechanical support.


This event offers a severe test in stunning countryside and is not for the faint-hearted! But if you can manage it, it’s one of the most rewarding and therefore best UK sportives 2023 has to offer.


Midlands sportives

Tour of the Peak

Location: Bakewell, Derbyshire
Date: 21 May 2023
Distance: 99 and 185 kilometres
Where to stay: Rutland Arms Hotel, Bakewell (book here)
Cost: £37.50

Our view

One of the best Midland sportives around, this classic event was named after the Tour of the Peak road race which took place between 1943 and 2005 and is steeped in history. It’s in the Peak District so you know it’s going to be tough and have an idea of what to expect before you turn a wheel on those grippy roads!

Starting and finishing in the small market town of Bakewell, the long 115 mile route has 3,000 metres of elevation, including the killer climb of Winnats Pass, and not to mention Holme Moss and the Cat and Fiddle!

The ascent of Winnats Pass, on the edge of the beautiful village of Castleton includes the ‘killer mile challenge’ which is a timed section on a fully closed road. You will not be able to speak as you cross the cattle grid at the top – trust me!

As the organisers state – only the brave should choose the long route!


Choose this event for the killer climbs and closed road hill climb. It’s one of the top UK cycling events in the calendar.

Rutland Cicle Tour Sportive

Location: Oakham, Leicester
Date: TBC April 2023
Distance: 54, 119 and 162 km
where to stay: Wisteria hotel, Oakham (Book here)
Cost: £27.50-37.50

Our view

The CiCLE Classic elite race is known as ‘Britain’s Belgium Classic’ and the sportive is your opportunity to ride much of the same route, including the pavé sectors (but just once, unlike in the elite race).

The event starts at Rutland Showground and the longer routes take you around Rutland Water and the small villages heading to Melton Mowbray. It’s great countryside and you’re supported by mechanics, medics, feed stations and signage.

The long route includes four different “pave” (rough terrain) sectors including the renowned Barleyberg and Somerberg.

The organisers promise that it will “soon become a must-do in the calendar” – if you live in the area, it could be a good one to try this year.

The Short and Medium routes have both been slightly shortened this year, so offer an easier challenge to any amateurs looking for one of their first events.


One to test yourself against for the novelty of cobbles alone! This is a classic of the sportive calendar 2023.



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Yorkshire sportives

Etape du Dales

Location: Grassington, Yorkshire
Date: 21 May 2023
Distance: 62 and 110 miles
Where to stay: Ashfield House, Grassington (book here)
Cost: £30-45

Our view

The Etape du Dales is a classic sportive that passes through some of the most remote and scenic countryside in the country. The long route covers many of the county’s well-known climbs as well as allowing the rider to explore the dales of Wharfedale, Littondale, Wensleydale, Swaledale, Arkengarthdale, Birkdale, Garsdale, Dentdale and Ribblesdale.

The climbs of Fleet Moss, Buttertubs and the ascent of Tan Hill to the highest pub in the UK, the Tan Hill Inn, make this one of the cycling sportives to enter.

The event supports the Dave Rayner Foundation which is a charity that provides financial assistance to promising young riders to compete in Europe.

There are some really challenging climbs on the 110-mile route with 3500 metres of elevation and is not for the novice cyclist. Those looking for something more family friendly should consider the specific family friendly route that the organisers have recently introduced to encourage participation from youngsters and to introduce others to the delights of the Yorkshire Dales.

More information

Check out our guide to the Etape du Dales route, here.


An iconic sportive in stunning, traffic light/free countryside.

Le Petit Depart Sportive

Location: Skipton, North Yorkshire
Date: 4 June 2023
Distance: 38 and 80 miles
Where to stay: The Coach House, Skipton (book here)
Cost: £25-37

Our view

A sportive which is very much part of the legacy of the Tour de France stages held in the county back in 2014.

Showcasing the very best the Yorkshire Dales has to offer there are four different routes available to suit all abilities with the opportunity to ride the very roads that were used in the Tour de France, the Tour of Yorkshire and the 2019 World Championships.


Set amidst some of the best scenery in the country this is a popular event and certainly the longer route will be a challenge to say the least!


North east/west sportives

Fred Whitton Challenge

Location: Grasmere, Cumbria
Date: 7 May 2023
Distance: 112 miles
Where to stay: Lake view Country House, Grasmere (book here)
Cost: £95 (plus transaction charge)

Our view

Probably the most famous and popular UK sportive, which is spoken about in the same esteem as the legendary Marmotte Cyclosportive in France.

With a 113-mile journey around the Lake District incorporating the now infamous climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes and almost 4,000 metres of elevation this is an epic test for both mind and body.

There is a 30% gradient on parts of Hardknott Pass with the incline on some of the hairpin bends even harsher. Given the severity of the climbs, the organisers have applied a generous time limit of roughly 10mph to allow as many people as possible to complete the course.

Gaining entry to this event is probably harder than the sportive itself. The ballot for the 2023 event has already closed, but keep a lookout in case any places open up.


This ultimate cycling test is packed full of killer climbs.

Stockton Sportive

Location: Stockton, County Durham
Date: TBC July 2023
Distance: 30, 72 and 105 miles
Where to stay: Hampton by Hilton, Stockton on Tees (book here)
Cost: £27.50-37.50

Our view

With the current penchant for sportive organisers to make their route as severe as possible to attract the pain loving cyclists, the Stockton Sportive proudly presents Le Tour de Moor.

There is over 2,700 metres of climbing to be found in the 105-mile route so make no mistake this is a serious test. Starting and finishing near Middlesbrough, your journey takes you into the North Yorkshire Moors with a string of really tough climbs including an ascent of the super steep Rosedale Chimney as well as the steep ascents of Egton Cliff and Blakey Bank.

A ‘family friendly’ route is offered for youngsters, inexperienced riders and those new to this type of event. In between the two extremes is the medium with their own challenges, both in mileage and climbing. One of the July sportives to take a serious look at for 2023.


If you’re after a severe test, this is for you!



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Scotland sportives

Etape Loch Ness

Location: Inverness / Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands
Date: 23 April 2023
Distance: 106 kilometres
Where to stay: Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel and Spa, Inverness (Book here)
Cost: £72

Our view

When looking for cycling events in Scotland, there is arguably no finer setting than the iconic Loch Ness. Add that to the fact that this is a circular closed road sportive then you can probably see why the Etape Loch Ness is so popular and that you may have to rely on a charity place to gain access.

Starting and finishing in Inverness the route of 106 kilometres includes a timed 7.72 kilometre King of the Mountain section (maximum gradient 12%). The full route has a total elevation of around 900 metres.

The event offers electronic timing, mechanical support, a finishers medal and the chance to see Nessie!

The priority and general admissions have already sold out for the 2023 event. However, you can still enter with a charity place for £72 – the organisers ask that you raise a minimum of £150 for Macmillan Cancer Support in return.


One of the best cycling sportives in the UK for 2023.

Etape Caledonia

Location: Pitlochry, Perthshire
Date: 15 May 2023
Distance: 40 and 85 miles
Where to stay: The Old Mill Inn, Pitlochry (book here)
Cost: £49-84 + transaction fee

Our view

Another Scottish cycling event definitely worth some serious consideration is the Etape Caledonia. It is so popular that you may have to gain entry with a charity ticket to have the opportunity to take part in this breath-taking ride through the spectacular Scottish Highlands.

The longer 85 mile route which begins and ends in Pitlochry will take you through rolling hills and forest land as you ride by the lochs of both Tummel and Rannoch as well as negotiating a challenging climb up Mount Schiehallion, which tops out at 1,083 metres above sea level.

This is a fully timed event, and includes a finishers medal, but beware it also includes a broom wagon to pick up the slow coaches!


A closed road sportive in the UK with awesome scenery.



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Wales sportives

Dragon Ride

Location: Margam Park, Port Talbot
Date: 18 June 2023
Distance: 98, 157, 213 and 296 kilometres
Where to stay: The Barn B&B, Margam (book here)
Cost: Ballot entry sold out. £89-140 for Premium entry. £25-40 for charity entry. Booking fee applies.

Our view

A Welsh cycling event that is extremely popular, the Dragon Ride 2023 is set in the stunning Brecon Beacons is very well established in the UK sportive calendar and has acquired almost legendary status.

For 2021 the organisers made their long route known as the Dragon Devil harder than ever by reversing it, and will continue with this route for 2023! With elevation gains of almost 4,500 metres over a mammoth distance of 296 kilometres this is probably the hardest sportive in the UK. The lesser challenge of the Gran Fondo version is hardly a walk in the park with 3,000 metres of elevation and a distance of 213 kilometres!

With climbs such as Devil’s Elbow, Devil’s Staircase and Black Mountain you get the impression that this is going to be an epic test of ability and character. Only the toughest will slay the dragon!

As of December 2022 all ballot places have been sold, but premium and charity entries are still available.

More information

You can read our full “behind the scenes” interviews with the organisers in this article about the Dragon Ride, Wales.


This is a bucket list event – do it if you can!




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Ireland sportives

Wicklow 200

Location: Bray, County Wicklow
Date: 11 June 2023
Distance: 100 and 200 miles
Where to stay: Wilton Hotel, Bray (book here)
Cost: €85

Our View

The Wicklow 200 – and its partner event the Wicklow 100 Challenge, take in many of the most iconic climbs in Ireland’s ‘Garden County’ in an event that is among the most arduous and most revered annual cycling events on the world calendar.

The routes are being revised for 2023 and, as at December 2022, have yet to be announced, although we do know there will be a new 150 mile route added too.


Considered by many to be Irelands premier cycling sportive the event attracts riders from all over the world.

Skoda Ring of Clare Sportive

Location: Ennis, County Clare
Date: 22 July 2023
Distance: 120 and 160 kilometres
Where to stay: Hotel Woodstock, Ennis (book here)
Cost: €50

Our view

Starting and finishing in Ennis the Skoda Ring of Clare is an Irish sportive that forms part of the international Skoda Celtic Cycle Series.

There are two routes on offer with the 160 kilometre route comprising around 1600 metres of elevation and the 120 kilometre version covering 1200 metres of vertical ascent. However whichever route you choose you are likely to be blown away with the stunning scenery on offer as you cycle through amazing coastal and estuary landscape on the west coast of Ireland including the world famous Wild Atlantic Way.

A medal and jersey is awarded to all finishers – who can also enjoy a post ride BBQ.


A beautiful coastline route and a new jersey – what’s not to love?!




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Final tips

If you are interested in riding a sportive in 2023 remember that the popular events will sell out on general sale very quickly. However, it is possible sometimes to gain entry with a charity place.

Want to know if a sportive is for you or know more about the general format of sportives? Check out our in-depth gran fondo/sportive guide, here – but in general, the beauty of cycle sportives is that they usually cater for all levels of ability and for riders with different objectives. There are those who want to race round the course for the kudos of being the first rider home, others that just want to see if they can complete the circuit and some who will just want to better their  time from the previous year.

Don’t assume that you need to wait until summer to ride your sportive. A little like the professional scene the UK cycling sportive season seems to have no start or finish, as an abundance of winter sportives have suddenly appeared to fill the gap between September and March. A quick check at the jam-packed UK cycling sportives 2023 calendar clearly indicates that this sector is in good health.

Want something to help you remember your sportive?

These cycling map prints are just the ticket. How it works:

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What next?!

Feeling inspired by what you’ve read? Up for a challenge? Going to ride a sportive this year?

Let us know in the comments below what you’re up to, which sportives you’ve ridden and which were your favourites. Any tips and advice you would like to impart?

And finally, if anyone is considering investing in a turbo trainer to kickstart their sportive training, check out our interview with Turbo Trainer Hire.

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John Vicars

John Vicars divides his time between England and Spain and, together with his wife, clocks in around 10,000 miles each year searching out Europe’s finest roads. John loves to share his experiences (good and bad) from the saddle and has a particular loathing for double digit gradients, sub-zero temperatures and red traffic lights!

Last Reviewed: 20 December 2022

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2 Responses to “16 of the best UK sportives 2023”

  1. Have ridden the Skoda tour of clare and its great. The Inishowen 100 run by Foyle Cycling club is a bigger challenge and a great ride for the scenery. Beware its 9000ft of climbing over 100 miles

    • Thanks for this – and great to know about the other event too. Best wishes, Clare

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