CYCLING supporters in East Lancashire are hopeful that they can use the impetus of the Tour de France to cement Pendle’s reputation as one of the sport’s UK meccas.
Just 10 days after the world-famous road race’s ‘Grand Depart’ careers through nearby Skipton and Calderdale, the Colne Grand Prix will attract the country’s two-wheeled elite.
The gathering, to take place again around the town centre’s one-way system, is the lynchpin of Pendle’s annual cycling fiesta.
Borough council bosses in Pendle, with the backing of former director Brian Cookson, now president of the European Cycling Union, have made a name for themselves, attracting premier cycling events to the countryside surrounding Nelson and Colne.
One stage of the national road race championships was hosted in the shadow of Pendle Hill in 2010.
And nearby Barnoldswick was the location for a leg of the popular ‘Ride with Brad’ events, organised by Olympic gold medal winner and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Coun Paul White, who leads on enterprise and promotion for the authority, said: “The Pendle Cycling Festival is designed to lead up to and beyond the Grand Depart, close to our borders.
“We’re passionate about cycling and our festival makes us a central part of the UK’s cycling capital, which is Lancashire!”
Festival organisers have been promoting the Tour de France’s arrival in their publicity and recommending hotel and camping sites locally.
One of the venues, Colne and Nelson RUFC, is hosting a beer festival today and tomorrow in the tour’s honour.
The grand prix, on Wednesday, July 16, will begin at 7pm and will be preceded this year by a new sprint event, sponsored by engineering firm Fort Vale, as well as the usual support race.
Olympic gold medallist Steven Burke has recently opened a cycling hub, named in his honour, at Swinden playing fields in Nelson