What is a Sportive?


Active Member
Coastal Suffolk
Please excuse the vague question but I am a making a 'come back' in cycling and the term sportive is new to me. Back in the 80's I used to ride the odd audax. If my memory is serving me well we'd be given printed directions and a card that needed to stamped at key locations to prove you completed the course.

A Sportive seems a bit different, with riders being numbered and lots of signposting on the route. So can someone tell me how they differ from my 1980's audaxes?

Many thanks


Legendary Member
It is often a pretend race, others may disagree.


The main differences are sportives are fully sign posted, marshalled with feed points and mechanical support. Sportives are also timed. I've used them in the past when I moved to a new area and It helped me find new routes, climbs etc.


An analogy might help here. Audax is the traditional spouse swap, word of mouth, couple are from the same vicinity, some basic ground rules, reciprocity, no pressure, you do it at your own pace. Sportive is usually commercial, venue is usually neutral and expensive, drinks and other stuff are provided there are some pre-requistives prior to participation such as photos, age requirements, theme, clothing etc, eviction ( disqualification ) may occur. Nobody gets thrown out of an Audax.

shadow master

Well-Known Member
Sportives are an excellent way to take on a first big challenge of say 100 miles,they are generally well organised,friendly,and relaxed,and the buzz and mixed ability of riders won't leave you totally alienated,they do cost a bit,but if you pack away 4000 cal at each feed station you can actually go into profit!
It's not a race, it's a very naughty boy.
Your 1980s audaxes are still about. Have a look at http://www.aukweb.net/ and the other place. I imagine the rides haven't changed much, except now you get GPX plots as well as route sheets, and some of the older riders are using tri bars to give them more positions. I feel audax is more my speed, but to be fair I haven't yet done a sportive - @vickster has got me to put my name down for RideLondon - that will be my first. (didn't pass the ballot)

Audaxes are usually ridiculous cheap, and - in my experience - fun. I'm a relative newbie; I did a few in 2013 and I'm signing up again this year.
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Over here sportives are generally tours over 50 + kms with people of all talents taking part. It is usually no more than £20 to enter and the proceeds usually go towards a charity. All you need to take part is you and your bike and they are fun and enjoyable. They are not races although you do get a few alpha males / females who like to. The summer will see a prolific splattering of sportives coming up so book some Saturdays / Sundays off and take part in a few. You'll enjoy it. I guarantee :sun::bicycle:
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