Etape Caledonia organisers have confirmed the race riders will do the 85-mile route “in reverse” as a way of to minimise disruption to the Perthshire potato harvest.
In June the PA revealed the organisers LimeLight Sports had put forward the change of direction for cyclists as a measure to pacify farmers in the Logierait and Aberfeldy area, who as a result, would get their roads open again earlier in the day given the September race day falls at the seasonal peak for lifting tatties.
LimeLight had already changed the date from May to September because a vaccination hub was operating in the area of Pitlochry needed for the race village.
The new date then meant having to consider rural communities with potatoes to shift which would be dissatisfied with having to wait for several hours of road closures to ease.
In the past, beginning and ending in Pitlochry, riders started by going north, completing the Schiehallion end of the circular route first.
But for this year at least, the 40 mile bike challenge will first head south towards Logierait, nip through Aberfeldy, then head north towards Schiehallion.
The decision to reverse the route was reached following consultation with the local community and Perth and Kinross Council which agrees the road closures.
Etape Caledonia is selling the “backwards” race route on September 19 as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to cycle the challenge in reverse.
The riders will “see the climb of Schiehallion from a totally new perspective, and tackle the ascent from a very different angle.”
When the idea was first mooted, some local residents suggested the direction tweak could add dangers not posed before, with a risk of bikes slipping on steep bits.
Northern residents complained Tummel and Rannoch got a bad deal this year by being the last section to reopen.
But now the plan has been firmed up, James Robinson managing director at Limelight Sports Club emphasised the positives: “Etape Caledonia is a really fantastic event and I am genuinely delighted that it will be back in Highland Perthshire this Autumn.
“The pandemic has definitely dealt a series of major operational challenges to event operators of all shapes and sizes.
“Our team, the local community and Perth and Kinross Council have worked incredibly hard to develop innovative solutions to problems created by the pandemic and we’re really grateful for their support and commitment to ensuring the event goes ahead.
“Over the years, participants have suggested to us the possibility of doing the route in reverse.
“Now, thanks to this rather exceptional and unusual combination of potatoes and a pandemic, this year’s participants will be able to take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity to cycle the route in reverse.”
While places for the 40 mile route option have already sold out, a small number of general and premium places for the 85 mile route remain available.
The remaining places for Etape Caledonia 2021 are available to book online at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk