A MAJOR cycling event which was due to be held in County Durham this summer has been cancelled.

Durham County Council and CSM Sport & Entertainment planned to hold Vélo North on Sunday, September 1.

They had predicted the event, which would include 50 and 100 mile routes along with community events and activies, would attract up to 15,000 amateur athletes, 40,000 spectactors and boost the local economy.

But too few cyclists signed up to take part and the organisers have had to scrap the plan, with just eight weeks notice.

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The news is likely to come as a relief to some residents and business owners who feared that the closed road event, which would pass through the North Pennines, Durham City and Bishop Auckland, would leave them cut off and impact on trade.

Richard Relton, CEO of organisers CSM Active, said: “We are very disappointed to announce that, unfortunately, we have had to cancel the inaugural Vélo North, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, 1 September, 2019.

“This was a very difficult decision to take but, despite our best efforts, the number of cyclists that signed up was not sufficient to justify the event going ahead.

“We apologise to everyone who had entered and was looking forward to taking part – we hope you understand our reasoning and appreciate that this was not a decision we took lightly.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Durham County Council for its support throughout the planning of the event. We were so excited at the prospect of delivering a Vélo Series event in the North East and are incredibly disappointed that we have not been able to do this.

“Anyone who has registered for the event should have now received an email detailing how they can claim a refund on their entry fee, transfer their entry to Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, or donate their entry fee to the lead charity partner for the Vélo Series – Prostate Cancer UK.”

Stephen Howell, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that Vélo North will not now go ahead but we understand CSM’s decision.

“We were particularly looking forward to welcoming cyclists from outside the region to take part in the event as we believe our county offers a great opportunity for cycling.”