A COMMUNITY has organised a major new cycling event to replace the popular Etape Pennines - axed last year due to lack of interest.

The Roof of England Sportive 2015 will take place on Sunday, August 30, and includes three new routes, the 30 mile Short Course, the 50 mile Durham Dales Course and the 90 mile Winking Sheep Course.

Cameron Gordon, owner of the Chatterbox Cafe, in St John’s Chapel, has spearheaded the set up of the new event which runs through Allendale, Weardale, Teesdale and Alston Moor.

“When the Etape Pennines was cancelled last year we decided that as these are the best roads in the country, it would be a crying shame if we did not have our own event,” he said.

“About a dozen of us have worked together to set the Sportive up, some are cyclists from local villages and others are keen to create a spectacle for the area.”

Unlike the Etape Pennines, there will be no road closures during the event. Cyclists will set off in groups of 20 at separate intervals, with elite cyclists starting first.

Marshals will also be in place at every junction throughout all three routes and a litter pick has already been organised for immediately after the event has finished.

Mr Gordon added: “The Sportive is harder and longer than the Etape, we wanted to show that this is the location for people who want to test themselves.

“A lot of the other routes start in bigger towns and cycle in and out of the dale. We are starting right in the middle of it, there’s no getting away from the hills.

“However the 50 mile course is very doable for anybody who is of even average fitness.”

The 90 mile Winking Sheep Course has been given its name after Mr Gordon spotted the shape whilst mapping out the route.

“We want people to understand that the route is very tough but also friendly, it’s not a beast it’s a winking sheep.”

Places are capped at 500 and around half have already been filled. Entry costs £25 and any surplus money will be donated to The Great North Air Ambulance and Weardale and Teesdale Mountain Rescue Service.

“We would like as many local people as possible to take part and even if you think it’s beyond you it’s doable and it’s a fantastic opportunity.”

For more information or to register, visit roofofengland.co.uk.