OLYMPIC hero Steven Burke has given his seal of approval to a cross-country track which will serve as Pendle’s answer to a Tour de France stage.

Steven, from Colne, joined Brian Cookson, Pendle Council regener-ation director and British Cycling president, along the course of the National Road Race circuit through Roughlee, Barley, Black Moss Road, Wheathead Lane and Blacko Bar Road.

Some of the world’s leading riders will descend on East Lancashire for the cycling summit on June 27.

Steven said: “It’s great to have the National Championships right here on my doorstep in Pendle.

“It’s a really challenging circuit with a long hard climb towards Pendle Hill and some tricky descents.

“Fifteen laps will sort out the really strong riders, with the climbing specialists likely to come to the fore.

“It’s going to be fantastic for the spectators. You’ll be able to get right up close to the riders like they do in the Tour de France.

“The Tour is just a week later and we’ll get a lot of the same top-class riders in Pendle.”

Villagers have already been invited to meetings to discuss arrangements for how the Pendleside area will keep moving during the race weekend.

Mr Cookson added: “It’s not every day I get to ride alongside an Olympic champion – it was hard going, I can tell you.

“ But I know Steven wasn’t pulling out all the stops like he will be next month.

“This will be the biggest cycling road race in the North West since the Commonwealth Games.

“In fact it’s the biggest sporting event Pendle has ever seen, and we’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure it is a success.”

Roads will be closed to traffic over the race weekend and diversions put in place, with special arrangements made for Pendleside villagers.