2 February 2017

Just walking up Blake Street or Hagg Hill is enough of a test for most hardy Sheffielders.

But when The Magnificent Seven cycling event returns for a second time in March, cyclists will be racing as hard as they can up these, and five other, notorious Sheffield hill climbs.

The race, a cross between a sportive and a hill climb, will take place as one of the headline events of The Outdoor City Weekender, running from Friday March 17 to Sunday March 19 in and around Sheffield: The Outdoor City.

The Magnificent Seven route, which is just over 27 miles long, presents each rider with more than 3,800ft of climbing, with inclines ranging from 9 to 23 per cent.

The 2017 route will include the infamous Côte de Oughtibridge, which was part of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart. The other challenging climbs include Hangram Lane, Blake Street, West Lane, Hagg Hill, Foxhall Lane and Fern Road/Thrush Street in Walkley, the latter of those being this year’s infamous “cobbled” section of the route.

Cyclists will ride with motorbike escorts and lead cars between each of the seven hills, and then gather at the bottom of each of the hills – which will be closed for the event – before racing for points to the summit.

The first 15 to the top then receive points which count towards the grand prize of being crowned King or Queen of the Mountains, for which the winners receive a trophy.

Those taking part are set to include last yea’rs winners, Kieran Wynne-Cattanach and Natalie Creswick along with former professional road cyclist Dean Downing, from Rotherham, who represented Great Britain at the World Track Championships in 2004.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “As a keen cyclist myself, I’m really looking forward to the second running of The Magnificent Seven – though I’m not sure I’m fit enough to take part!

“It’s not every day that top sportspeople battle it out on residential streets, and I’m sure the event will surely be fantastic fun for riders and spectators alike.

“This will be just one of the key events as part of The Outdoor City Weekender, which will together showcase the very best of Sheffield not just to visitors, but to those who already live, work and play here and would like to try something different.”

Both men and women are encouraged to ride in The Magnificent Seven, with equal prize money for both categories. Women are being especially encouraged to sign up.

The ride is aimed at amateur club riders and, as well as capturing the imagination of local clubs, last year riders flocked to Sheffield from across the country to take up the seven hill challenge.

All entrants will receive refreshments before and afterwards. The field is limited to 100 cyclists, who must be aged over 16, and places are filling up fast.

To sign up, visit the website at https://www.riderhq.com/events/72870/the-2017-magnificent-7

Event organiser Marc Etches said: “We are really looking forward to another Magnificent Seven.

“Last year’s event was superb and we’re pleased to be able to be part of the Outdoor City Weekender and showcase our great city once more.

“The event is unique in the UK and to give the competitors the opportunity to race up traffic-free closed roads, something of which only professional riders have, is a great selling point for the event.

“The highlight of this year’s route is the inclusion of the Cote de Oughtibridge – a really special offering as this was used in the 2014 Tour de France Grande Depart.

“The route really showcases Sheffield as The Outdoor City and all the riders will be treated to some spectacular views at the top of every climb – once they’ve caught back their breath back!”

As well as The Magnificent Seven, the headline events of The Outdoor City Weekender will be the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF), the Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF) and the Howard Street Dual.

ShAFF runs over all three days of the Weekender, featuring films based on the themes of bike, run, adrenaline, adventure, and young adventurers. The festival is based at the Showroom Cinema, with additional screenings nearby at Sheffield Hallam University.

CWIF, at the Climbing Works, attracts professional climbers from around the world, who compete alongside amateurs of all ages and abilities. Last year, 450 competitors from 23 countries took part, and the same number are expected in 2017.

And the Howard Street Dual will be held on Saturday, 18 March. Invited riders will race head to head down a short course, descending along grassy and gritty slopes from Hallam Square towards the railway station. Further details on this exciting event, set to be held for the first time, are coming soon – and star names in the MTB world are expected to take part.

Fringe events to take place as part of The Outdoor City Weekender will be announced in the coming weeks and are set to include runs, cycling events, family fun and much more.

For more information on the Weekender, visit the website at http://www.theoutdoorcity.co.uk/outdoor-city-weekender/