EAST Lancashire is bracing itself for a Tour of Britain boom on the back of the race visiting the area on Monday.

The second stage of this year’s event starts in Clitheroe and finishes in Colne, with a host of cycling superstars, including Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, set to ride.

And cycling officials believe the race will help increase interest in the sport, which is already enjoying its finest hour.

British Cycling’s recreation manager for Lancashire, Caroline Gilbert, has seen the success first hand, with the organisation working in conjunction with local councils to offer guided Sky Rides for adults and children as well as the dedicated women’s Breeze rides initiative.

“It is great to see how much the programme has grown over recent years since we started working in Blackburn in 2012, followed by South Ribble and Chorley in the last two years,” said Gilbert.

“Thanks to the support and investment from those councils, and all the amazing Ride Leaders and Breeze Champions in those areas, we have been able to form a three-year partnership with Lancashire County Council, Blackburn Council and Blackpool Council, who have invested with us in the programme to bring rides and routes to everyone in Lancashire.

“It was quite a small number of people taking part to start with but it has grown.

“The area has a long history of cycling heritage and we just hope we can inspire people to get on their bikes.”

The partnership between British Cycling and the local councils, with help from sponsor Sky, has seen more than 1,500 people take part in rides across the county.

Tomorrow sees a Tour of Britain Family Ride to celebrate Britain’s biggest cycling race visiting the area. It runs over an eight-mile route, starting from Cafe Cargo in Foulridge at 10am.

The variety of rides means all ability and fitness brackets are catered for, something local Breeze champion Rachel Moore confirms.

“There are people on bikes everywhere. Cycling is enjoying its best-ever period,” said Moore, who lives in Colne and has been involved in the Breeze programme since 2014.

“I have cycled all my life off and on, and the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire really inspired me again.

“Hopefully the Tour of Britain coming to Colne can help inspire more people to get out on the bike.

“Cycling really is an easy way to stay fit and is not as hard as a lot of people think it is.

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to sign up for local rides.

“Anyone who does join knows that the route will be safe and they don’t need to worry.

“There are a lot of people who don’t cycle because they are not sure where to go, they are worried about safety or they don’t like going out on their own, so these rides are a great way of ensuring people can just ride their bike and not worry about any of that stuff.

“Numbers are certainly rising and we want to see that continue. Hopefully the Tour of Britain can have an impact on that.”

To find out more about Sky Rides taking place in East Lancashire, visit goskyride.com/lancashire.