Cyclo Sportives are long distance, organised, mass-participation cycling events set against the clock. These events fall between a traditional road race and a non-competitive randonnée or Audax event.
Riders turn up at the start and are given a number and usually an electronic tag of some description. The tag will register their set-off time and return time at the finish line thus giving an overall time to complete the course. There are no winners prizes or encouragements to race against others, however, riders may compare their time against others and against any set timing bands (within which the course must be completed) i.e. under 4 hours, under 4 hours 30, under 5 hours etc. Unlike many randonnée events, there is no lower limit preventing riders from completing the course quickly.
Cyclo Sportives are designed to be challenging to riders and are usually planned to take in a variety of hilly sections.The routes will usually be well sign-posted and/or marshalled. Some cyclosportives take place on roads which have been closed to motor traffic for the duration of the event in which case riders will be notified in advance. Riders will be able to use feeding stations positioned at various intervals along the route to replenish their food and drink supplies and mechanical and medical support may also be provided. Some Sportives attract thousands of participants. The l'Etape du Tour has offered places to 8,500 riders each year.