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County in gear for cycling sensation – Start at Ushaw College

An event designed to underline County Durham’s growing reputation as an exemplar host for top cycling events looks set to bring a major economic boost to the county.

As part of the authority’s ‘Join in….’ Olympic legacy programme Durham County Council is supporting the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, a 78 mile course which will take cyclists through some of the county’s most breathtaking countryside. The inaugural Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, an IMG Challenger World event, will take place on Sunday 7 October 2012 and promises both top notch competition and significant economic spin offs.

Cabinet member for leisure, Councillor Maria Plews, said: “County Durham has a growing world reputation as a fantastic venue for cycling events, hosting everything from a stage of the Halfords Cycle Tour Series to the Durham Beast and Big Ride.

“The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines gives the county the chance to host a unique closed road cycling event which has the potential to attract thousands of entrants in the coming years. Indeed, organisers IMG Challenger World are hoping for 3,500 entrants for the event next year.

“Moreover, the Etape will be the first major event post London 2012 to be held in the county and offers us the opportunity to deliver on our pledge to support a programme of Olympic legacy sporting contests.”

Cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, Councillor Neil Foster, said: “Analysis of similar events held in Ireland and Scotland show that on average competitors book a two night stay in the area when they attend an event like this and often bring friends and family with them.

“This sort of major event will not only give us another opportunity to show off what a spectacular county we have, but will also bring major economic benefits to the tourism and related industries.

“I can not think of a more stunning backdrop than the Dales or, indeed, a more challenging one!”

James Robinson, Managing Director of IMG Challenger World, has been working closely with the event team on the route since the event’s inception, “We are really pleased and excited to be bringing the first closed road sportive in England to County Durham as the course has been designed to offer riders a challenging and rewarding ride in the stunning countryside of the North East. Rider safety and enjoyment is paramount at all times and to this end we have been working with the Police and Durham County Council to ensure a traffic free route for the entire event. We will be working very hard over the next 11 months to make sure the first closed road sportive in England will be every bit as successful as its sister event – the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia. ”

The 78 mile course starts at Ushaw College and heads as far west as St John’s Chapel – and will take cyclists across to Eggleston in Teesdale in the south, approaching Northumberland at its northern most tip at Baybridge.

So far, 850 people have entered the event, and organisers IMG Challenger World, are contacting accommodation providers in the county to try and negotiate cyclist-friendly rates and promotional offers for overnight stays in the area.

It is also hoped that many entrants will visit the county to try out the circuit in the months before the event itself, further boosting the local economy from spring onwards.

For further information on the event please visit www.etapepennines.co.uk

Marie Curie Cancer Care is the official Charity Partner of the Etape Series 2012. All funds raised by cyclists taking part in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines will enable Marie Curie Nurses to provide more free care and support to terminally ill people and their families.

Ends.

Notes to News Editors:

Durham County Council is championing this event with an annual in kind package of support worth £30,000.

Press Release-Durham County Council.

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