Cycling fanatic Matt Barbet interviews the best guests from the cycling world on his weekly ITV bike show. We catch up with the biking expert for his top cycling routes of all time…
1. Mont Ventoux, France
The Giant of Provence is an icon of the Tour de France and a must-do for anyone who enjoys road riding. The gradient’s hard enough, but if the Mistral is blowing over the top, it’s an immense effort to reach the peak.
2. Mallorca, Spain
It’s like a playground for cyclists – tough mountains, scenic coastline, good coffee and smooth roads, with tolerant drivers too. Best enjoyed between March and May when the temperature is usually perfect.
On and off-road, Snowdonia has it all: stunning views with quiet back-roads and trails, while a few decent pubs give you something else to look forward to. Betws-y-Coed is a good base to explore from.
4. London to Brighton, England
A rite of passage for anyone who rides a bike, whether it’s a racer, commuter, or fold-up. Beware of Ditchling Beacon towards the end. It’s a bit of a brute, but don’t you dare get off and walk!
5. Box Hill, Surrey, England
Already well-known by cyclists in the South-East, it was immortalised in 2012 at the London Olympics. That day, the World’s best did several circuits of it, but anyone is capable of completing just one ascent and it should take less than 10 minutes.
6. Flanders, Belgium
Not many nations love cycling more than Belgium, and touring its Northern Region of Flanders is the only way to go. Cyclists get right of way over drivers, on well-maintained bike paths that run between charmingly pretty towns like Ghent and Bruges.
7. Dunwich Dynamo, England
Every summer, when there’s a full moon on the Saturday closest to the Equinox, thousands head out from London late in the evening, and ride the 120 miles to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast overnight. Cyclists of all types blink their way through the night to reach the seaside for sunrise. It’s magical and there’s nothing else like it.
8. Cape Peninsula, South Africa
The Cape Argus is currently the World’s biggest cycle race, and around 40,000 take part every year, riding 100km around South Africa’s breathtaking Cape Peninsula. It’s not easy, and some of the biggest names ever to get on a bike (like Eddy Merckx) have even tackled it.
9. Etape Caledonia, Scotland
Riding on roads completely closed to traffic is a special feeling, and this was the first British event to do it. It runs in a loop from Pitlochry, taking in lochs and forests along the way. The route will put you through your paces, but at least you don’t have to worry about cars.
10. Prudential Ride London, England
Only a year old, this is already the equivalent of the London Marathon on a bike – brilliantly organised on world famous roads that are made for the enjoyment of those pushing themselves along them. No surprise that like its famous sibling, entry is hugely oversubscribed, but the excitement of whizzing past Parliament or down the Mall is impossible to replicate.
Watch The Cycle Show at 8pm, every Tuesday on ITV4