By Ian Dipple 02/04 Updated: 02/04 17:02
SOME of the best riders in the world are set to descend on Redditch as the town plays host to one of Britain's elite cycling events.
Redditch will stage the fourth round of the Halfords Tour Series event on Thursday, May 24 - becoming the first town in Worcestershire to do so in the process.
Around 50 professional cyclists, including Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy and Tour de France stage winner Magnus Backstedt, will go head-to-head completing 30 laps of a specially designed circuit which will take them right through the heart of Redditch Town Centre. Riders will set-off from Church Green West before swinging left down Prospect Hill, left along Clive Road, left up Hewell Road and then back up Unicorn Hill.
Redditch is one of just four new venues in the 11 date series, which is televised on ITV4. Organisers chose the town as it is the home of title sponsors Halfords and also because of Worcestershire County Council's £2.8million Choose How You Move 2 project. Council chiefs hope to use the showcase event as the official launch of the scheme in Redditch which aims to encourage sustainable means of travel such as cycling, walking and bus use.
Peter Hodges, spokesman for the Halfords Tour Series, said as it was their first event in Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands area it was a huge opportunity to showcase Redditch to thousands of people.
"It's about inspiring people and getting them onto a bike, whether it is for health, travel or leisure reasons or perhaps finding the next Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish," he said.
"It's a chance to come down and watch first class, top level, professional cycling in Redditch Town Centre. We've never had a round in Birmingham or Warwickshire and there's quite a large pool of people for who, this is now a 30 minute drive or train ride for them to come along and see when previously they have not had access to this style or level of event."
The race takes place from 7pm on the night, but there will be build-up events during the day and stalls providing information on current transport options. Residents will also be able to get up close to the riders before the race and hunt for autographs and pictures.
Coun John Smith, responsible for highways and transport on Worcestershire County Council, said: "It will give people the chance to sample the excitement of this elite cycling race, in this home Olympic year, hopefully inspiring people to saddle up and start pedalling in the future."
Solihull rider George Moore and Denmark's Michael Berling, members of the Cycle Premier - Kovert team, were in town on Monday (April 2) to help officially announce the tour date and try out the route.
Moore said: "It's a really good course the uphill finish suits me personally so it's just a case of getting a good result. I can't wait to come to Redditch, it's going to be a great day and a great tour series overall. Every cyclist wants to win in front of a crowd especially as I only live in Birmingham."
Berling added a huge turnout from the public would make a massive difference to all the cyclists involved.
"It's going to be a really hard race because there's a long drag to the second last turn into a steep hill up to the finishing turn so the finish is going to be really, really hard."
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