A BIKE shop owner and a prominent councillor from Mirfield are the driving force behind a major cycle race taking place on the eve of the Tour de France.
Dave Sowerby has co-organised a series of races in Huddersfield town centre on Friday July 4, along with Mayor of Kirklees Coun Martyn Bolt and British Cycling.
The One Community Criterium races promise to be a thrilling, fast-moving spectacle, with three different races designed to accommodate varying skill levels amongst participants and potentially thousands of spectators lining the 1km route.
An elite race for professional teams and riders will be the main draw, with a support race for amateurs and a youth race taking place before the big event.
Thousands of visitors are expected in the district over the weekend as the Tour De France's Grand Départ comes to Yorkshire for the first time.
Riders will race many times round the circuit, which takes in the town hall, the nearby Victoria shopping precinct and other prominent locations.
Other similar events have been held successfully around small circuits in town centres such as Brighouse, Otley and York and seen by many in a national TV series.
Mr Sowerby, who has run Sowerby Brothers Cycles in Mirfield town centre for 30 years, said that he expected the number of applications for the races to increase dramatically as the date gets closer.
He even has hopes of attracting a few big-name cyclists to the elite race, including locally-raised Olympic champion Ed Clancy.
“It’s still early days but we’re really pleased with the response from riders so far,” said Mr Sowerby, 51.
“I’ve pestered Martyn Bolt about doing a race like this for several years, and with Martyn being the current Mayor of Kirklees and the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire, now is the perfect time.
“If this event is a success, then perhaps we could look at spreading the Kirklees Criterium race to other towns such as Dewsbury and Batley.”
Coun Bolt (Con, Mirfield) said: “It has been many years since we had elite racing in the area and I thought the time was right to organise another event.
“I am confident that we have devised a course which should prove challenging to the riders, entertaining to the spectators and an evening that hopefully will be profitable to our traders.”
There are plenty of opportunities for local businesses to support the event through advertising, sponsorship and hospitality packages.
For more information about the race, contact Dave Sowerby on 01924 496873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.