COMPETITION was fierce as cyclists of all ages battled it out in a North-East town’s first-ever road race.

Crowds of people cheered on the dozens of cyclists taking part in the series of races at the Bishop Auckland Cycle Races this evening (Wednesday).

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The route saw cyclists do laps of a circuit, which covered the Market Place, Fore Bondgate and North Bondgate.

Races for boys and girls aged under-16 kicked-off the event before a group of enthusiastic amateurs fought hard in a tough race. Professional riders battled it out for the £2,500 prize fund.

Jo Lally, of Hexham, who brought her three children Paddy, 13, Rosin, 11, and Ciaran, eight, to compete representing Derwentside Cycling Club, said it was a fantastic opportunity.

“There are only a couple of races like this in the whole year so this is great,” she said. “The children love it and it is something a bit different.”

Sue Thompson cheered on her grandchild Mea Cleathero, eight, who won her competition and hopes to become a professional cyclist when she is older.

She said: “It is brilliant, especially after the Commonwealth Games and the Tour de France. It allows the children to be on a par with the adults.”

Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Councillor Colin Race said he hopes the races will return next year.

“This is a major event for Bishop Auckland and it is great to see people supporting it,” he added.

Councillor Sam Zair, who helped fund the event through the Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP, said: “You just have to look around to see the excitement from people. It has brought visitors into the town and that has to be good for the economy.

“There has been a lot of hard work gone on behind the scenes to put this event on.”

County councillor Charlie Kay, who called for Bishop Auckland host the event ahead of other towns in County Durham, said: “I think when we had the initial meeting I hoped it would happen and it is fantastic to see what we have ended up with.

“Given the enormous popularity of cycling at the moment it is massive for Bishop Auckland to be putting on an event like this.”