THE nation’s top youth cyclists will open their new season in Sunderland next weekend as Hetton Lyons Country Park hosts the first event of the National Youth Series.

Hundreds of Britain’s leading young cyclists will compete on a specially-designed closed circuit in the park on Sunday, April 13.

A number of the local cyclists taking part in the event have been selected for British Cycling’s Olympic Talent Programme, and are being tipped as future Olympic medal hopes.

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Ben Dobson, event organiser, said: “This is a great honour to be selected to open the National Youth Series here in the North-East. For our riders who already compete at national level, it’s an opportunity to invite their friends from other regions to sample the delights and renowned hospitality of the North-East.

“It is fantastic to see our top youth cyclists racing. Some of these boys and girls may go on to have the same success as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Victoria Pendleton.”

Marton Race Team coach, David Morton, added: “We have worked hard to increase the quality of racing in the region, and this is the third time we have been involved in getting a round of the national series to the North-East.

“It gives our local riders an excellent opportunity to test themselves against the best in the UK. As a team, our aim is to get those riders capable of competing at the national level. We also promote regional events to bring the younger and less experienced riders up to national level.”

* The format for Sunday, April 13 is:

10am Under-8 boys and girls (15 minutes of racing)

10.30am Under-10 boys and girls (20 minutes of racing)

11am Under-12 boys and girls (40 minutes of racing)

12.30pm Under-14 and under-16 girls (50 minutes of racing)

2.30pm Under-14 boys (50 minutes of racing)

4.15pm Under-16 Boys (60 minutes of racing)