Saddle up for UK’s biggest festival

TWO Newcastle United stars hope that a major cycling event in the region next month will once again be a wheely big success.

Ryan Taylor and James Perch have thrown their full support behind this year’s inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone, which runs from Thursday, June 28, to Sunday, July 1.

Previously the Northern Rock Cyclone, one of the UK’s biggest cycling festivals, it was renamed following Virgin Money’s acquisition of the mortgage lender in January.

The 2012 Virgin Money Cyclone will feature four days of cycling for the first time since its inception in 2006. The new Thursday evening ride is more relaxed and specifically aimed at less experienced riders and young families.

Called the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride, it will feature two gentle routes of nine and-a-half and 14 and-a-half miles along the banks of the River Tyne, taking in the Millennium, Tyne, Swing, High Level, Redheugh and Scotswood bridges.

The Friday night sees the return of the ever popular Leazes Park Criteriums and on Saturday the inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone challenge takes place – with riders having a choice of 33, 63 and 104-mile routes through the beautiful Northumberland countryside.

The Sunday sees the addition of a new women’s race, the Curlew Cup. This follows the outstanding success of the Women’s National Road Race Championships which formed part of the Cyclone in 2011.

The professional male riders will once again be competing for the prestigious Beaumont Trophy. Both races start and finish in Stamfordham.

Perch said: “It is great that Virgin Money is continuing to sponsor the Cyclone cycling festival. It is a great weekend that brings families and friends together, similar to when they come to watch us play at home.

“I hope that the Virgin Money Cyclone continues to grow from strength to strength and that more and more people take part as cycling is a great activity for all the family to enjoy.”

For more information about the event, visit