Enjoy rural ride and watch elite cyclists

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A major cycling festival is returning to Northumberland next week.

Staged over four days, the Virgin Money Cyclone offers something for riders at all levels – from sportive challenges and family routes to a weekend of professional racing culminating in the women’s Curlew Cup and men’s UCI European Tour Road Race, the Beaumont Trophy, featuring some of the world’s best cyclists.

On Saturday, June 21, there will once again be a choice of three distances – 33, 63 and 103 miles – for the Cyclone Challenge event.

All rides start and finish at Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club, Kingston Park, and take in the spectacular backdrop of the Northumberland countryside. The routes are mainly on country roads and riders will set off in groups of 60 at two-minute intervals.

Among those set to participate in the 33-mile ride are six wounded veterans, John Rames, Colin Hutchinson, Wayne Bell, Dan Ellam, Stu Collier and Simon Kristiansen. They all have in some way sustained serious physical and mental injuries.

They will raise funds for Walking With The Wounded, which supports the re-training, re-education and re-skilling of wounded servicemen and women, and Forward Assist, which works to reduce social isolation and promote community engagement with other veterans through its activities and support groups.

Mr Kristiansen said: “Sport plays a huge role in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers after service. Many aspects of it, from the camaraderie and working as a team, echo the skills learned within the armed forces.

“All of the team is looking forward to the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge and really hope that people show support for our cause however they can.”

To make a donation online, visit http://bit.ly/VMGWWTWFA

On Sunday, June 22, some of the best riders in the country will compete in a Women’s National Series Road Race in rural Northumberland.

The race will use the Ingoe Circuit, passing through the villages of Stamfordham and Matfen. Competitors will complete three laps of 13.9 miles each before going on to the 22.3-mile circuit used in the men’s race.

The men’s event – a UCI European Tour Road Race – will start at about 1pm. It begins with a single lap of the 13.9-mile circuit used in the women’s event and riders then progress to the 22.3-mile circuit, which includes the climb of the Ryals.

This is ridden four times before a final lap of the first, smaller circuit, producing a total distance of 117 miles.

The Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride marks the start of the festival on Thursday, June 19 with two routes available (10.5 and 15.5 miles). Newcastle’s Leazes Park takes centre stage on Friday, June 20, with the chance to cheer on local and international racing talent and enjoy a free BMX display from Savage Skills.

Virgin Money Cyclone founder and organiser Peter Harrison said: “The North East has shown incredible support for the Virgin Money Cyclone over the past eight years and we hope people continue to show their support, get involved and come out to cheer on the professionals next week.”

For more information or to register an entry, visit www.virginmoneycyclone.co.uk