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Video: David Millar and Martin Johnson ride the Vélo North route

“Breath-taking is the only way I can describe it”

On Sunday September 1, up to 15,000 riders will descend on County Durham for Vélo North, the only closed road sportive in the North of England this year. David Millar and 2003 Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson have previewed the route.

Starting in Durham city centre, riders will set off towards the village of Lanchester to the north-west of the city. Here, riders doing the 100-mile route will continue on towards Stanhope and St John’s Chapel, and on through the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Those on the 50 mile-route will make their way south through County Durham passing Cornsay Colliery, Crook and into Bishop Auckland.

Johnson, said: “Breath-taking is the only way I can describe it – literally and physically. The views are just spectacular – from the quaint market villages to vast open spaces across the North Pennines, the buzz of Durham City to the grandeur of the Cathedral, you really do have to be here to see it and experience it for yourself.”

Millar described Velo North as, “without doubt the most beautiful organised ride in the UK.” He added: “The fact it’s on September 1st means it’s the perfect end of season test for riders who will be clocking the training miles over the summer. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Entries are limited with few remaining spots available to purchase via the official website. You can however still take part through Velo North’s charity partnership with Prostate Cancer UK, who are offering entries for just £20. (You’ll need to raise a minimum of £200 in donations for the charity.)

The Northern Echo reports that a number of local business owners attending a meeting about the even this week complained that road closures will mean they see little benefit from the influx of visitors.

The prospect of cash compensation was raised, to which Nigel Dodds, Durham County Council’s strategic manager for culture and sport, replied: “We won’t compensate businesses for losses during events. We would rather work with businesses to mitigate the effects.”

He added: “We want to encourage people to come to County Durham, we want 15,000 people to come to County Durham, we want to sell Teesdale and Weardale.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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