A COUNCIL has set aside £250,000 to host a cycle race in County Durham.

Durham County Council agreed to stump up the money after being approached by CSM Sport & Entertainment, a sports events company headed by Lord Seb Coe.

Planning is still in the early stages, but the competition is currently slated to be held in early September and could attract 15,000 riders and thousands of spectactors.

“Similar events elsewhere have boosted local economies by as much as £2.7m,” Councillor Ossie Johnson, cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, told cabinet last Wednesday.

“While the council has previously hosted other cycle events they have not been on this scale. The 100-mile route will take thousands of riders on a spectacular journey through the north Pennine countryside and will be the only event of its kind in the north of England.”

The exact route has not been confirmed but would finish or pass through Durham and Bishop Auckland. It is expected to include a short 50-mile contest, as well as the main 100-mile course.And entrants living in the county could be offered free places or a £10 discount on the cost of competing to encourage participation.

Depending what day is finally given the green light, it could face competition for visitors from other events such as the Great North Run.

Lord Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and one of the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games, is executive chairman of CSM.

The firm recommended the council set aside £200,000 to host the race, based on the price to host similar events for other local authorities.

County bosses felt it ‘prudent’ to set aside £50,000 on top of the estimated £200,000 hosting costs, for potential traffic management costs.

Durham County Council is expected to vote on next week (Wednesday, February 20) to increase council tax by almost five per cent.