FINAL preparations are being made as Stockton gets ready to host the elite British Cycling National Road Championships as part of the popular Stockton Cycling Festival.
Some of the world’s premier cyclists will descend on Stockton in the coming week as they gear up to compete in exhilarating action in the pursuit of sporting glory in Stockton Town Centre.
The regenerated town centre is set to be the perfect stage for a first class festival of cycling action which will see the likes of former British and World Champion Mark Cavendish, defending National Road Champion Lizzie Armitstead (who is also current World Road Champion), women’s National Time Trial Champion Hayley Simmonds and men’s National Time Trial Champion Alex Dowsett.
Residents of Stockton Borough and visitors from further afield are being encouraged to take advantage of the rare opportunity presented by the arrival of the National Championships.
Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “I’d urge everyone to embrace these championships and come down to Stockton Town Centre across the four days to sample the festival atmosphere and enjoy some thrilling sporting action.
“We have some of the world’s best competitors coming to compete right here on our doorstep so this is a real chance to be part of an event that will leave a legacy in the Borough and be remembered for years to come.
“There’s so much on offer for all ages at the festival, including a family festival day on Sunday 26 June so there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy.
“Bring your family and your friends to Stockton and cheer on the cyclists as they race around the town centre and out into the wider Borough before returning for thrilling sprint finishes on the High Street.”
The action gets under way on Thursday 23 June with both Men’s and Women’s Time Trial races. Hayley Simmonds races in the North East for the first time with the defence of her title on the line while Alex Dowsett bids for a record fifth British time trial championship. Racing begins at 1pm with the under-23 men’s time trial, followed at 3.15pm by the Women’s race and the Men’s race at 5.30pm.
Alongside the time trials, the popular StreetVelodrome returns for the only time in the North East this year. The pop-up track, based at the Knowle Street car park, will see local school groups take on the challenge. StreetVelodrome will welcome elite riders on Saturday 25 June while it will be open to the public during the family fun day on Sunday 26 June.
Youth racing is the order of the day on Friday 24 June between 6pm and 9pm as the future stars of the sport race around the unique Town Centre circuit and is ran in partnership with British Cycling and local cycling group Stockton Wheelers.
Saturday 25 June witnesses the return of the increasingly popular Stockton Sportive which sees cyclists of all ability challenging themselves across four race distances – from the Spin route of 36.7 miles up to the gruelling Le Tour De Moor which will see riders clock up 105.8 miles and climb 11,027 feet! All routes start and end at Stockton Riverside, with the longer routes taking in the breath-taking scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors.
The festival climaxes on Sunday 26 June with the electrifying National Road Championships. The Women’s Road Race begins at 9am while the men’s competition starts at 1pm with action expected to conclude at around 6pm.
The Sunday also plays host to the Family Festival Day which offers a huge variety of cycling themed activities for all ages to enjoy including cycle tracks, unicycle displays, a BMX jump box and face painting! There’ll also be a cycling expo village for visitors to explore.
As well as all of this – there’s RideStockton at 1pm on Sunday 26 June, where anyone can bring their bike and cycle a closed road loop around a traffic free Stockton High Street and take in the views of the River Tees.
For more information about Stockton Cycling Festival, www.stockton.gov.uk/scf
There are road closures and restrictions relating to this event. For full details, visit www.stockton.gov.uk/cyclingclosures