Otley's Lizzie Armitstead taking leading role in cycling festival

Wharfedale Observer: (7114982) (7114982)

Otley's Olympian Lizzie Armitstead will be among the stars at a cycling festival being held to celebrate the Tour de France.

The Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling will run at Harewood House over the Tour's opening weekend - from Friday, July 4 to Sunday, July 6.

As well as providing a prime spot for spectators to watch le Tour - whose route includes a section and ceremonial race start at Harewood House on Saturday, July 5 - the event will feature a variety of sporting and other attractions.

Those will include a flypast by the Red Arrows and duathlons, cycling time trials and trail runs where the challenge will be to beat times set by Olympic gold and bronze medal-winning triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, from Bramhope.

A series of guided bicycle rides will also head out into the Yorkshire Dales so fans can view the later stages of the race on the Saturday and Sunday, with selected routes led by Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead.

Festival ambassador Lizzie said: "This is my home county and the roads around Harewood House are some of my favourite to ride on when I'm here, so going on a ride with the Yorkshire Festival of Cycling will be a bit like taking a big group of cycling fans on one of my training routes.

"On a personal level, I’m really looking forward to being a spectator for once and enjoying the race with my family and friends.

"It will be a new experience for me. It's different from the usual music festivals and there’ll be so much going on all weekend.”

Fellow ambassador Alistair Brownlee added: "The Yorkshire Festival of Cycling will be a great place to bring everyone together in celebration.

"It’s an opportunity to experience the beauty of one of Yorkshire’s oldest estates and watch the race up close, but you can also have a go at these events yourself, meet like-minded people and get inspired to keep up a sport afterwards."

Live music will kick the whole festival off, with Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Rebecca Ferguson and Soul ll Soul performing at the opening Tour Concert on Friday, July 4.

There will also be a cycling cinema, outdoor shopping exhibition, literary and adventure talks, family-focused assault courses, and a big screen to watch both the rest of Le Grand Depart and the football World Cup.

Other high profile sporting guests attending will include 2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro and Ireland’s former Tour, Giro and World Champion, Stephen Roche.

For more information visit http://www.festivalofcycling.org .

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