A MAJOR cycling event could be held in County Durham this summer–pulling in thousands of people and millions of pounds.

Durham County Council has revealed it has been invited to co-host the mass-participation closed-road Vélo North cycling event this September to coincide with the 2019 Year of Culture campaign.

It would include 100 and 50 mile routes along with community events and activities to encourage people to take up the sport.

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The route has yet to be finalised but organisers plan to showcase the county's diverse landscapes and pass through the North Pennines, Durham City and Bishop Auckland.

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The council says the event could attract up to 15,000 participants and more than 40,000 visitors, with 80 per cent of attendees expected to come from outside the area and stay overnight in the county. Similar events elsewhere in the country have boosted the local economy by as much as £2.7 million.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve a budget of £250,000 and allocate staff for the project when it meets at County Hall on Wednesday, February 6.

Cllr Ossie Johnson, cabinet member for culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “This event is an opportunity to show off our beautiful county to a new audience. It would also significantly boost our economy and inspire people to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle.“This is just the kind of event we should deliver in County Durham, especially in a year when we are celebrating culture and sport and the many benefits they bring.”