The four-week countdown to the Staffordshire Cycling Festival officially began today as organiser Paul Rowlands, alongside Stafford Borough Councillors Adam Hill and Mike Smith, Head of Leisure and Culture and Cabinet Member for Leisure, met in Stafford town centre with professional cyclists and county residents, Kieran Frend and Liam Holohan to celebrate the festival’s arrival this August.
The group convened outside the Swan Hotel where the start and finish line for Friday night’s iconic Stafford GP will be placed and on hand to show support for his home county’s Cycling Festival, Liam Holohan said:
“Moving to Staffordshire in the last couple of years means I’ve been fortunate to be able to ride some of the country’s best roads and most scenic routes as part of my training for events like the Tour of Britain. It’s fantastic to see the Staffordshire Cycling Festival return for the second year and to see so many local faces and families showing such excitement for the sport.”
Taking place across two days, (Friday 1 – Saturday 2 August), the festival starts with an evening of action-packed professional racing with the now famous Stafford GP and the first stage of the Women’s Tour of Staffordshire, both are set to attract some of the nation’s biggest cycling stars.
Those attending on the opening night to cheer on their sporting heroes will be treated to a whole host of activities to get the evening underway – from an Extreme Mountain Bike Show performed by British Trials Champion, Danny Butler, to Rollapaluza racing and balance bike races for the kids before the professionals take centre stage in the town centre.
The action then moves to the Shugborough Hall Estate for day two, with a BBQ and more family-fun activities happening alongside two public sportives, the INTO Staffordshire 35 mile and a longer, more challenging 70 mile ride.
Open for sign-ups to anyone with a passion for pedals, the INTO 35 mile ride is a great introduction for those tackling sportives for the first time. The 70-mile challenge is for more confident riders and involves a number of tests, from steep climbs and heavy sections that test riders’ willpower.
A great way to work up an appetite and toast the achievement of crossing the finishing line, all sportive participants will be rewarded with a free half pint of Staffordshire Cycling Festival Ale – the Festival’s new, bespoke brew.
The pros will finally draw the Festival to a close with stage two of the women’s Tour of Staffordshire and the fast and furious Shugborough Kermesse – both set to boast the very best in British road cycling talent.
Councillor Mike Smith, said of the event: “The festival really is a hugely popular fixture in our events calendar and attracts residents and visitors from Staffordshire and beyond. It is always great to see the number of people who turn out to see this brilliant spectacle, especially the families and younger members of the community who will be inspired to get on their bikes too which is something we are keen to encourage - especially as the health and wellbeing of our borough is one of the council’s top priorities.
“We are pleased to be a part of a national race that always attracts top riders and teams to Stafford and this also brings with it a real boost for our economy as well.”
Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader Mark Winnington said: “Staffordshire is a great county for cycling. We are investing to improve facilities and are seeing more people take it up as an activity. The Staffordshire Cycling Festival attracts among the very best in the UK and it has become a top event in the sports calendar.
“In addition, it is helping to encourage cyclists of all abilities to get on their bikes and get involved over the weekend. The festival is taking place in tremendous settings – around the streets of the county town, through picturesque countryside and on to Shugborough. It will be a real boost to the local economy and inspire many to become part of an active Staffordshire.”
With further Festival details yet to be released, an overview of the programme so far includes:
Friday 1 August
- Stafford GP men’s elite race
- Stage one of women’s Tour of Staffordshire
- Entertainment including the Extreme Mountain Bike Show from 4.30pm
Saturday 2 August
- INTO Staffordshire 35 mile sportive
- 70 mile open sportive
- Stage two of women’s Tour of Staffordshire
- Professional race - Shugborough Kermesse
The Staffordshire Cycling Festival takes place on Friday 1 August and Saturday 2 August 2014. For more information or to register to ride one of the two sportives, visit www.ridestaffs.co.uk or enter today below.