Sunday 22 July saw Stafford town centre taken over by cyclists for the 2018 Redrow Homes Staffordshire Cycling Festival.
The county town delivered a packed day of cycling action by Staffordshire cycling event specialists RideStaffs, over 300 amateur riders took part in the festival sportive, a mass participation ride that started and finished in Market Square. A 40 or 60-mile route took them through some beautiful Staffordshire countryside, with feed stations at The Borehole in Stone and at Cotes Heath Village Hall. The challenging ride took them through Sandon, Moddershall, Stone, Swynnerton, Cotes Heath, Bishops Offley, Gnossal and Haughton.
Little ones took part in a Strider balance bike time trial before the stars of tomorrow raced around the streets of the town in the festival youth race won by Daniel Barnes from Lichfield City Cycling Club, and later, there was big-screen action from the Tour de France in Market Square as riders and spectators enjoyed food and drink from Lymestone Brewery, Bear Coffee and The Wildfire Pizza Co.
The Chartley Coffee Stafford Grand Prix, the festival headline, attracted some of the UK’s best elite pro riders – and a huge crowd to cheer them on. It was the first time the Stafford Grand Prix had been staged in the town since 2015. The tight, 750m town centre circuit saw riders clocking up pre-60 second laps and delivered fast-and-furious racing that delighted the crowds.
Riders from the Canyon Eisberg professional team took all three podium places – with national circuit champion Matt Gibson crashing out in just the second lap. Rory Townsend grabbed the victory for Canyon after pulling away to set up a commanding lead. Charles Page came in second, over five seconds behind his team-mate, with Andy Tennant from Wolverhampton finishing third.
RideStaffs director Paul Rowlands said: “We were absolutely delighted to bring pro racing back to Stafford town centre and it capped a fantastic day. The sportive was incredibly popular and there was a real festival atmosphere in the town, helped no end by the glorious weather. The Stafford Grand Prix was a sensational race for the thousands of fans who came out to watch. It proves just how popular town centre road racing is and I hope the Staffordshire Cycling Festival will inspire lots more people to get on their bikes and take up cycling in the county.”
The Staffordshire Cycling Festival has crowned a fantastic year for RideStaffs, with big sportives held in Sugnall, Uttoxeter and Milford. The final RideStaffs event of the season – the Lymestone Cowboy sportive – starts and finishes at Lymestone Brewery in Stone on 9 September. More details at www.ridestaffs.co.uk