A FORMER Olympic cyclist has got back in the saddle to help launch the 2012 Stockton Cycling Festival.
The three-day festival – from July 6 to 8 – will transform the town centre’s streets and riverside with exciting events for cyclists and spectators alike.
Uniquely among UK cycling events, the festival features all of British Cycling’s key programmes, from the popular mass participation Sky Ride, for all ages and abilities, to the Premier Calendar road race which is contested by the country’s top riders.
Professional riders will open the festival on the Friday evening as they tackle a town centre circuit in a round of the Elite Circuit Series.
The Endeavour Sportive event follows on the Saturday, giving cyclists of varying abilities the opportunity to test themselves on one of three courses ranging from a steady 35 miles to the tough 95-mile route over the infamous Rosedale Chimney on the North York Moors.
The festival climax on Sunday takes in a host of fun family activities, including the Sky Ride, BMX and trials displays, cycle coaching, music, dance and other entertainment and the climax Premier Calendar road race.
Double Commonwealth Gold medallist and ex-Olympian Paul Curran, from Thornaby, is enthusiastic about the cycling festival.
A winner of 21 races in the Premier Calendar and its predecessors, 51-year-old Paul said: “I’ll be joining the Friday night high street crowds to watch the Elite Circuit Series race.
“I plan to ride both the Endeavour Sportive and the Sky Ride events and will round things off by enjoying the Premier Calendar road race.”
Billingham gran and mum-of-four Jane Sinclair, who has never taken part in any cycling event until now, is also supporting the festival.
Jane, 55, who has entered the 35-mile Sportive challenge, a non-competitive ride open to all, said: “I’ve not been a regular cyclist for years but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council’s Cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, said: “Following the success of our first Cycling Festival last year, I’m delighted the event is back, bigger and better.
“I hope people will be inspired to come along and watch or, even better, have a go.”
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