Sunderland plays host to the National Cyclo-Cross Championship for the first time this weekend (13/14 January).
The country’s leading riders are travelling to the city to take part in the annual national event, being staged this year at the Green Flag award winning Hetton Lyons Country Park.
650 of the UK’s leading cyclo-cross riders will compete across ten categories and various age ranges to become the 2018 national cyclo-cross champions in an international sport which tests cycling skills to the limit with off-road courses over rough terrain.
The event is being organised by Hetton Hawks Cycling Club who have been based at Hetton Lyons Country Park for 15 years with support from British Cycling and Sunderland City Council, made possible with help from the North East cycling community and 100 volunteers who give their time to bring this event to the region for the first time.
The event starts at 9.30am on Saturday 13 January with the first in a programme of 45 minute races across the park which are open to spectators throughout, with each champion awarded their trophy at the end of each race by local community leaders on the podium.
Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “Hetton Hawks Cycling Club being invited to organise this event in the city is a huge honour for Sunderland.
“It is also testament to the city’s commitment to promoting all forms of cycling, and to the hard work of the club, local cycling community and volunteers who have all worked together to make this possible.
“It is wonderful that this event is coming to Hetton Lyons Country Park and I hope everyone will come out to enjoy watching some fast, frantic and skilful action from some of the country’s top riders over the fantastic terrain that the park offers.
Councillor Kelly added: “This is one of the earlier events of many taking place in 2018 and we hope that the competitors, spectators, visitors and residents enjoy the start of what will be truly a fantastic year for events and activities being held across our city.”
Chair of Hetton Hawks Cycling Club Mike Charlton, added: “Winning the opportunity to host the 2018 National Championship as a little club in the North East is quite an accolade, and our collective aim is to deliver an event that the whole of the UK cycling community can be proud of which will inspire our riders to achieve more on and off the bike.”