A major north-east cycling event has been cancelled due to lack of “viable sponsorship”.
The Etape Royale brought hundreds of cyclists to Royal Deeside and Moray last year and helped boost the local economy.
The event, scheduled for September 10, was due to showcase the spectacular scenery with both a 100-mile and 50-mile route, but organisers Wildfox issued a statement last night to confirm the event will not go ahead this year.
Blaming “uncertain financial times” David Fox-Pitt said in his statement: “It is a very special sportive which has attracted those cyclists wishing for a more dramatic and challenging ride at the end of the cycling season.
“But, with a smaller field than most, it isn’t viable without significant sponsorship.
“In these uncertain financial times, it has not been possible to secure sufficient corporate or public funding to facilitate a safe and professional event.”
Adding that he hoped the event would return for 2018, Mr Fox-Pitt said: “This is a great opportunity to promote business, celebrate cycling and support communities in the north east of Scotland.
“We wish to thank the local community and volunteers for their welcome and continuing support. Together we have built a unique event and although we are sorry to disappoint those wishing to ride this year we look forward to re-launching the sportive again very soon.”
The event has contributed to Ballater’s recover after the catastrophic flooding caused by Storm Frank.
Among the high-profile entrants last year were former Scottish rugby captain, Rob Wainwright and record-breaking long-distance cyclist, Mark Beaumont.
The latter was effusive about the Etape Royale, saying: “What other sportive boasts taking in a ski resort, royal estates, whisky distilleries and over 100 miles of the most beautiful scenery that the Scottish Highlands has to offer?
“The Etape Royale is an inspired route and has a brilliant atmosphere.”
The event was held for the first time in 2015.
Participants can e-mail: email@example.com for more information.