Virgin Money has announced that, following the acquisition of Northern Rock at the start of this year, it will continue to sponsor the UK’s biggest cycling festival – the Cyclone. Northern Rock previously enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Cyclone event, and the first ‘Virgin Money Cyclone’ will be held between 28 June and 1 July 2012.
Paul Lloyd, Marketing Director at Virgin Money said: "Now that Virgin Money and Northern Rock are united as one business, I am delighted to support this fantastic event. Virgin Money is committed to supporting the communities we serve. This event is an excellent showcase for what the North East has to offer and I am proud to have the Virgin Money brand associated with it.”
Virgin Money Cyclone event organizer Peter Harrison (pictured above) said: "Northern Rock has supported the event since the very beginning, and I am delighted that this relationship will carry on through Virgin Money. The event has firmly established itself on the cycling calendar and, with the backing of Virgin Money, I am sure that it can continue to go from strength to strength!"
The inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone will feature a new Thursday evening ride. This more relaxed ride is specifically aimed at less experienced riders and young families. Called the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride, it will feature two gentle routes of 9½ and 14½ miles along the banks of the River Tyne. Starting from Newcastle Quayside, the ride will take in the Millennium, Tyne, Swing, High Level, Redheugh and Scotswood bridges. The rides start at 7pm on Thursday 28 June and cost £6 per person.
As in previous years, the weekend will also include the Leazes Criteriums on Friday evening, the hugely popular Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge rides on the Saturday – with a choice of 33, 63 and 104 mile routes – and the Beaumont Trophy Premier Calendar race featuring professional riders on the Sunday. A new addition to the Sunday programme for this year is the Curlew Cup. Following the success of the Women's National Road Race Championships as part of the Cyclone festival in 2011, the Curlew Cup will be the first ever all ladies race held in the North East, and will form part the women’s National Series.
Over £500,000 has been raised for charity through previous Cyclone events. Virgin Money Giving is now the official not-for-profit sponsorship website of the Virgin Money Cyclone, offering fundraising support to Cyclone Challenge riders who raise money for charity. Virgin Money Giving also collects Gift Aid for free, so charities could receive £12.15 in total for every £10 a rider is sponsored.
Virgin Money Cyclone 2012 Schedule
Thursday – Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride
2012 will be the inaugural event for this relaxed ride. Aimed at less experienced riders and families, it follows Sustrans Routes 72 and 14 along the north and south banks of the River Tyne taking in the Millennium, Tyne, Swing, High Level, Redheugh and Scotswood bridges. There is a choice of 9.5 or 14.5 mile routes.
Friday – Leazes Criteriums
The Criterium racing in Leazes Park, Newcastle starts at 6.15pm and offers spectators a great opportunity to get close to the racing. With races covering different ages and abilities, the evening starts with two youth races – one for U10/12 followed by another for U14/16. The supporting senior event is for riders who race regularly but are not full time riders. Entrants must hold either a 2nd, 3rd or 4th category BC licence. The finale for the evening is a one hour race for the best riders in the country, some of whom are medal winners. There even may be some current world and Olympic champions taking part.
Saturday – Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge Rides
This offers a choice of 3 rides of differing distances and difficulty to test all those who compete. All rides start and finish at the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club, Kingston Park, before heading out to the spectacular backdrop of the Northumbrian countryside. The routes are mainly on country roads, therefore avoiding the city traffic. Riders set off in groups of 60 at 2 minute intervals. The 3 routes offer the choice of 33, 63 and 104 miles.
Sunday – Elite races
Women’s National Series Road Race – The Curlew Cup
The first event of the day will be a Women’s National Series Road Race which will attract some of the best riders in the Country. The race starts at 9.30am and will use the Ingoe Circuit which passes through the villages of Stamfordham and Matfen. Competitors will complete 4 laps of 13.9 miles each before finishing in Stamfordham.
Men’s Premier Calendar Road Race – The Beaumont Trophy
Starting at 1pm, riders complete 3 laps of the 22.3 mile circuit that was used for the 2011 Men’s National Road Race Championships, including the climb of the Ryals. On completion of the 3rd lap of the larger circuit, riders will then go on to the smaller finishing circuit of 13.9 miles as used in the women’s event. This will be completed 3 times making a total distance of 108 miles.
For more information on the Virgin Money Cyclone events, go to www.virginmoneycyclone.co.uk