Coun­cil in bid to host big bike race

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE - RHI­AN­NON MCDOWALL

CY­CLE fans could be in for a treat if the coun­cil’s bid to host next year’s Tour of Bri­tain is suc­cess­ful.

Cheshire East Coun­cil has agreed to put up £250,000 to host part of the Aviva Tour of Bri­tain Cy­cle Race – Bri­tain’s big­gest pro­fes­sional bike race.

If suc­cess­ful, it could mean top class cy­clists like Bradley Wig­gins could be cruis­ing through Mac­cles­field, with the po­ten­tial to host the start or end of the race pre­sent­ing an even big­ger op­por­tu­nity for the town. It is pro­jected that the event, which sees cy­clists ride around the coun­try in eight stages, could gen­er­ate up to £5m for the econ­omy.

Coun­cil leader Michael Jones backed the bid at a cab­i­net meet­ing and said it would be a ‘fan­tas­tic way’ to mar­ket Cheshire as a tourist des­ti­na­tion.

He said: “Not only that, it will hope­fully in­spire res­i­dents to get more in­volved in cy­cling ini­tia­tives across the bor­ough.

“We have some of the best cy­cle routes in the coun­try with stun­ning scenery and it’s this sort of fam­ily ac­tiv­ity that adds to the health and well­be­ing of com­mu­ni­ties – and that’s some­thing this coun­cil is com­mit­ted to.

“It will also be a key driver for tourism, which is al­ready worth £807m to the Cheshire East econ- omy, and would help at­tract even more high­pro­file na­tional events in the fu­ture.”

The race, which will take place next Septem­ber, would bring spon­sor­ship and pro­mo­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to lo­cal busi­nesses. The funds will come from the coun­cil’s in­vest­ment sus­tain­abil­ity ear­marked re­serve.

Mike Higham, a keen cy­clist and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Mac­cles­field Wheel­ers, said: “There is al­ways a bit of con­tro­versy sur­round­ing th­ese things and the fact the coun­cil has to pay out, but it can be very good for the town.

“The big prize is host­ing the start or the fin­ish be­cause that’s when you get ev­ery­thing in one place and it really can boost the econ­omy and it would be a big op­por­tu­nity for Mac­cles­field to show­case what it’s all about.

“Ob­vi­ously as a cy­cling club we are very sup­port­ive of it, but the great thing about cy­cling is that it’s very ac­ces­si­ble as a spec­ta­tor, you can get close to the ac­tion. And there are usu­ally some fan­tas­tic kids events that go along­side so it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for them too.”

He added: “It’s a big race – it’s one be­low the con­ti­nen­tal tours like the Tour de France – so you get some class riders, which is quite ex­cit­ing.”

Anna Gowthorpe

●● Could Sir Bradley be head­ing to town?

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