More than 5000 cyclists will take on the Etape Caledonia when it returns to Perthshire on Sunday September 19.
But they’ll ride it in reverse.
Organisers moved the date from the traditional May staging due to the pandemic, hoping an autumn event would provide its best chance of going ahead.
Now the 85-mile route through stunning Highland Perthshire will be cycled in reverse to accommodate Covid restrictions and peak potato harvesting season.
Roads will be able to open earlier with the reverse route – bringing less disruption for harvesters.
It will also give unrestricted access to Pitlochry’s vaccination hub.
The decision was reached after consultation with the community and Perth & Kinross Council, when it transpired the new date clashed with potato harvesting in the region.
Participants will still set off from Pitlochry in the early hours but, instead of heading north as they have done in previous years, the route will now take them south towards Logierait, through Aberfeldy, then North towards Schiehallion.
Participants will loop around Loch Rannoch before heading back towards Pitlochry along the banks of Loch Tummel.
They’ll see the climb of Schiehallion from a new perspective and tackle the ascent from a very different angle.
“Cycling has seen a surge in interest over the last 18 months,” says James Robinson, managing director at Limelight Sports Club.
“The pandemic has dealt a series of major operational challenges to event operators of all shapes and sizes.
“We are all really looking forward to seeing everyone come together to take in the beauty of Highland Perthshire in Autumn and enjoy its much-missed hospitality.
“Over the years, participants have suggested to us the possibility of doing the route in reverse.
“Now, thanks to this unusual combination of potatoes and a pandemic, this year’s will be able to take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity to cycle the route in reverse.”
- Charity places for Etape Caledonia 2021 are available to book online.