British Cycling’s Elite Road Series is to return to Northumbrian Water’s Derwent Reservoir over the weekend of July 1 and July 2.
The reservoir, which has its north shore in Northumberland and the south shore in County Durham, will see over 200 men and women take to the tarmac across both days in two challenging events.
The ‘Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir’ will see the 85 female riders start the two-day event at 8.50am on Saturday outside of the village shop in Edmundbyers.
They will complete five laps of the Derwent reservoir covering around 62.5 miles.
Then, on the Sunday, the women will again start in the village around 8:50am before completing four laps of the reservoir and one circuit of the Horseshoe Hill climb, completing around 75 miles by the end of day two.
They are expected to finish beside the tower at Derwent at around 12 / 12:30pm on both days and the best places to get a great view of the riders during the event are in the grounds of the reservoir.
Other good vantage points include the Manor House bank, Carrick’s corner, the Feed Staton on Barry Bank and in the village of Edmundbyers.
The men’s annual ‘Northumbrian Water Tour of the Reservoir’ road race, now in its twelfth year, has expanded from a single day race to a two stage ‘tour’ event, attracting some of the best riders from across Europe.
This year, for the first time in the event’s history, an eight-man team from the Basque area of Spain will be among the 140 male cyclists taking part in the race. The team, who are renowned for their hill climbing, contains two English cyclists who are based over in Spain and will be wanting to make their mark on this year’s competition.
Last year’s winner Joe Fry, who will be riding for Bike Channel Canyon, will be looking to defend his title and will come up against tough competition with the likes of Team Wiggins, Team JJ Caindor (who has two-time winning rider Russell Downing and current series leader Ian Bibby riding for them) and Team Giant Sheffield taking part.
Stage one of the men’s race, on Saturday, July 1, is an 87 mile uphill circuit starting in Edmundbyers Village at 12.30pm. Cyclists will complete seven gruelling laps of the tough roads around Blanchland and Edmundbyers to compete for selection for day two of the event.
Riders who qualify to race on day two, on Sunday July 2, will then battle it out over seven laps (96 miles), circling Derwent Reservoir and Blanchland village. Cyclists will set off at 1.45pm, again from the race headquarters in Edmundbyers village, racing at speeds of up to 60mph.
Qualification to stage two of the race is dependent on crossing the finish line within 15 minutes of the winner crossing the finish line (20 minutes in poor weather conditions).
Best viewing points for the men’s events include Carrick’s corner, Horse Shoe Hill (Prime Hill) up to the Junction of B6278, Church bank in Edmundbyers and at the race finish located on the dam wall near the Visitor Centre.
Mike Hodgson, event organiser from Tyne Valley Cycle club, said: “I’m delighted that we have so many fantastic and talented riders back at Derwent Reservoir and in North West Durham for this event and can’t wait for it to get underway.
“The event is billed locally as a mini Tour de France and always attracts the best cyclists in Britain and now, for the first time ever, from across the world. We are really excited to see the Basque team in action and I’m sure they, and all of the other riders, will enjoy the challenge that we have in store for them.
“The new race route offers some fantastic vantage points and the whole event is a great day out for cycling enthusiasts and members of the public. I’d urge people to come along and watch, meet the riders and take the opportunity to see some of the world’s best cyclists in action.”
David Hall of Northumbrian Water, who will present the winner’s sash on the reservoir dam wall podium, said: “It’s a real privilege for us to be part of this premier calendar race again and there is no better or more spectacular backdrop to hold it against that the Derwent Reservoir.
“The event is a huge boost for the area and a real coup for the North East, especially the tourist industry, as it usually brings in a huge number of spectators and attention to the region.”
Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Mike Barton, who′s officers will be supporting the event on the day, said: “Year-after-year this event grows and we can again look forward to seeing some of the best cyclists in the business tackle a course with such a beautiful backdrop.
“It’s great that a rural part of the county is showcased nationally and reminds people that as well as being a great and safe place to live, it is also a fantastic place to visit and enjoy a holiday.”
Motorists are advised to allow extra time for their journeys over the weekend as there will be a rolling road closure in place around Derwent Reservoir between 8.30am and 5.00pm on Saturday and 8.30am and 6.00pm on Sunday, including a short stretch of the A68.
Media opportunity: There is possibility for media opportunities on Friday lunchtime at the reservoir. If you wish to take photos or interview any riders / organiser Mike Hodgson then contact Jonathan.Bargh@nwl.co.uk before Thursday and we can arrange. Thanks.