Cyclists eager to ride in one of the country’s most popular sporting events have snapped up available spaces in record time.

Thousands of riders will descend upon the Scottish Highlands for Etape Loch Ness, which sold out its general entry in just 50 hours – despite an increase in capacity. Those who missed out on one of the highly coveted spaces still have a chance to enter, though, by pledging to support Macmillan Cancer Support.

Limited spaces have been reserved for cyclists who are willing to raise a minimum of £100 for Macmillan Cancer Support, the official charity of the 66-mile closed-road sportive which takes place on Sunday, April 23 next year.

Event director Malcolm Sutherland says, “Since we launched Etape Loch Ness in 2014, the response from the cycling community has been phenomenal. We are very proud of the reputation Etape Loch Ness has built in such a short space of time. Following the high demand for our last event, we increased the field of entry for 2017 so to sell out in less time is staggering.

“Those who had registered their interest on our website had access to priority entry on Tuesday morning, and by the time general entry opened on Thursday we were already extremely close to maximum capacity.

“There are still a limited number of places available for riders raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. I would encourage anyone who is still on the fence to sign up for one of these before they run out – not only will you get to participate in one of the most scenic sporting events in the country, but you’ll be raising valuable money for an incredibly worthwhile charity.”

Macmillan Cancer Support has been the official charity partner of Etape Loch Ness since it was launched, and participants have so far raised over £444,200 to support its work with cancer patients and their families across the Highlands and rest of the country. Team Macmillan places also sold out in record time for the 2016 event, so participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, says, “Taking place in one of Scotland’s most stunning natural settings, it really is little wonder that the popularity of Etape Loch Ness continues to grow each year.

“We are delighted to support the event through EventScotland’s National Programme and look forward to another highly memorable occasion on the banks of Loch Ness in 2017.”

Etape Loch Ness begins in Inverness, following the north side of the loch and passing the historic ruins of Urquhart Castle. The route then switches onto the south side for the second half heading back towards the Highland capital.

Once past Fort Augustus, cyclists will face the toughest challenge of the course: the King of the Mountain – a 4.8 mile climb rising to 380m in height towards the Glendoe Summit. This is a timed stage and prizes are awarded to the King and Queen of the Mountain.

For more information or to register for one of the remaining Macmillan Cancer Support spaces, visit www.etapelochness.com

Regular updates appear on social media through Facebook at www.facebook.com/etapelochness and Twitter @EtapeLochNess

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