SOME of the country’s best road cyclists will be returning to the region for a night of fast-paced racing.

The Tour Series is once again heading to Durham and for the first time will also feature a women’s race.

Riders reach speeds of up to 50km an hour on the challenging route, which includes steep descents, cobbles and climbs and takes place on May 22.

Three elite races are set to take place on the night, including the tour’s first hill climb race.

The event will also return to a week night, after last year moving to Saturday in a bid to attract more spectators.

Councillor Ossie Johnson, cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues at Durham County Council, which hosts the race in partnership with organiser Sweetspot, said: “The Tour Series cycling is a fantastic event that in previous years has brought thousands of people out onto the city’s streets, contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds to the county’s economy and helped raise our profile regionally, nationally and internationally.

“The hard cobbled climbs, narrow streets and tight corners of our medieval surroundings makes for a superb sporting spectacle as some of the top riders in Britain compete on what has traditionally been one of the Tour’s toughest courses.

“I hope to see many people out cheering on the competitors and perhaps being inspired to saddle up and improve their own health and wellbeing.”

Olympic champion Ed Clancy, world junior champion Tom Pidcock and Commonwealth silver medallist Harry Tanfield, from Teesside, are among those to have taken part in previous editions of the event in Durham.

Now in its tenth year, the Tour Series, which is organised by the team behind the Tour of Britain, is a team-based televised series of city centre cycle races.

Durham will be the fourth stop on the tour and will see competitors racing for more than an hour on a 1.4km route.

For the first time, there will also be a separate hill race along a 500m route up Silver Street.

Race director Mick Bennett said: “The Tour Series remains as important as ever to Britain’s leading domestic teams, especially for those men’s squads who are seeking to qualify for this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain, so I have no doubt that we’re in for thrilling racing this May.”

Details of the teams and riders for this year’s race will be announced in the coming weeks.