Rugby stars back cycling challenge

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WITH just over a month to go until the 2013 Virgin Money Cyclone, the Newcastle Falcons are the latest sporting stars to support the event.

The Saturday Cyclone Challenge rides begin and end at Kingston Park, home to the team looking to win promotion to the Aviva Premiership next week.

Amateur riders can test their fitness over three distances – 33, 63 or 104 miles. Most of the journeys on June 29 go through the Northumberland countryside.

The challenge is open to all ages and abilities and allows participants to ride at their own pace.

Falcons star Jimmy Gopperth said: “The Virgin Money Cyclone is a great event for the whole family regardless of cycling ability.

“The Cyclone provides those taking part the chance to ride through the wonderful, wide-open spaces of the Northumberland countryside. To see so many people here last year at Kingston Park gearing up to start is a testament to the popularity of the Cyclone.”

Many of the riders will be cycling for a variety of charities and since it began in 2007, the Cyclone has seen more than £500,000 raised for good causes.

The following day, residents can see top-class action when two big races come to the county.

The first event will be a Women’s National Series Road Race which will attract some of the best riders in the UK. The Curlew Cup race starts at 9.30am and will use the Ingoe Circuit, which passes through the villages of Stamfordham and Matfen.

Competitors will complete four laps of 13.9 miles each before finishing in Stamfordham.

Starting at 1pm, the male riders will complete three laps of the 22.3-mile circuit that was used for the 2011 Men’s National Road Race Championships, including the climb of the Ryals.

On completion of the third lap of the larger circuit, riders will then go on to the smaller finishing circuit of 13.9 miles as used in the women’s event. This will be completed three times to create a total distance of 108 miles. The winner will receive the Beaumont Trophy.

The Criterium racing in Leazes Park, Newcastle, starts at 6.15pm on Friday, June 28, and offers spectators a great opportunity to get close to the racing.

With races covering different ages and abilities, the evening starts with two youth races. The supporting senior event is for riders who race regularly but are not full-time riders.

The finale for the evening is a one-hour race for some of the best riders in the country, some of whom are medal winners.

On Thursday, June 27, the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Rides will take place. Aimed at less experienced riders and families, it follows Sustran’s Routes 72 and 14 along the north and south banks of the River Tyne taking in the Millennium, Tyne, Swing, High Level, Redheugh and Scotswood bridges.

There is a choice of 9.5 or 14.5-mile routes.

For more information about all the events, visit www.virginmoneycyclone.co.uk