STAFFORD is gearing up for a cycling event that will bring the cream of the country’s talent to the town.
The countdown to the second annual Staffordshire Cycling Festival began last Friday (4) when professional cyclists, leisure chiefs from Stafford Borough Council and event organisers met outside The Swan in Greengate Street where the start and finish line for the Stafford GP will be.
Last year’s inaugural event saw Stafford town centre packed with spectators keen to ride the cycling wave that has swept the country in the wake of the country’s success in the 2012 London Olympics.
The event takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2 and starts with an evening of action-packed professional racing with the now famous Stafford GP and the first stage of the Women’s Tour of Staffordshire both of which will attract some of the nation’s biggest cycling stars.
Cycling fans attending the opening night to cheer on their sporting heroes will be treated to a host of activities to get the evening underway, from an extreme mountain bike show performed by British Trials Champion Danny Butler to Rollapaluza racing and balance bike races for the kids before the professionals take centre stage in the town centre.
The action then moves to the Shugborough Hall estate for day two, with a barbecue and more family-fun activities happening alongside two public sportives, the Into Staffordshire 35 mile and a longer, more challenging 70 mile ride.
The 35-mile race is open to anyone with a passion for pedals and is a great introduction for those tackling sportives for the first time.
The 70-mile challenge is for more confident riders and involves a number of tests, from steep climbs and heavy sections that test riders’ willpower.
All sportive participants will be rewarded with a free half pint of Staffordshire Cycling Festival Ale – the festival’s new, bespoke brew.
The pros will draw the festival to a close with Stage 2 of the Women’s Tour of Staffordshire and the fast and furious Shugborough Kermesse – both set to boast the very best in British road cycling talent.
Councillor Mike Smith, said: “The festival really is a hugely popular fixture in our events calendar and attracts residents and visitors from Staffordshire and beyond. It is always great to see the number of people who turn out to see this brilliant spectacle, especially the families and younger members of the community who will be inspired to get on their bikes too which is something we are keen to encourage - especially as the health and wellbeing of our borough is one of the council’s top priorities.
“We are pleased to be a part of a national race that always attracts top riders and teams to Stafford - and this also brings with it a real boost for our economy as well.”
Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader Mark Winnington said: “Staffordshire is a great county for cycling. We are investing to improve facilities and are seeing more people take it up as an activity. The Staffordshire Cycling Festival attracts among the very best in the UK and it has become a top event in the sport’s calendar.
“In addition, it is helping to encourage cyclists of all abilities to get on their bikes and get involved over the weekend. The festival is taking place in tremendous settings – around the streets of the county town, through picturesque countryside and on to Shugborough. It will be a real boost to the local economy and inspire many to become part of an active Staffordshire.”
For more information or to register to ride one of the two sportives, visit www.ridestaffs.co.uk.