South West bike racing fans can look forward to a packed spring of top-level competition after the first Riviera Classic Cycle Weekend was confirmed for the end of March.
More than 300 of the UK’s best young riders will contest the first of seven National Youth Circuit Series meetings on Torquay Seafront on Sunday, March 25, but hundreds more riders of all ages will also take part in a support programme at Paignton’s Torbay Velopark the previous day.
It means that the 2018 road season will open with the traditional Primavera Road Race at Hatherleigh on February 25.
The new Riviera Classic will take place four weeks later.
Then it’s the annual Totnes-Vire Two-Day Stage Race on April 14-15, also hosted by the Mid-Devon CC and based at the Torbay Velopark and Okehampton.
Finally, the second new big event on the calendar, the already-announced elite South West Women’s Two-Day Stage Race, will be held on April 28-29.
The Mid-Devon club and Torbay Council are linking up to put on the Riviera Classic weekend.
Organiser Ken Robertson said: “This is a national event attracting the top riders in the UK in the under-14 and under-16 categories – boys and girls.
“It is the first in a series all run in town centres, and the Riviera Classic moves Torbay into the Premier League of cycle racing destinations.
“It is also a show of British Cycling’s support for the region and a reward for all the hard work all the local clubs and coaches put in to the grass-roots development of cycling in South Devon.
“We had a number of home-grown competitors from the region representing Great Britain at the recent World Championships, and events like this will help turn the South West into a cycling hot spot.”
The Seafront course will be similar to the one used in 2012 for a televised ‘Tour Series’ race, with the finish near Torquay’s Grand Hotel.
Torbay’s Mayor Gordon Oliver said: “This is wonderful news for the Mid-Devon club and the wider Bay.
“To be able to host one of the seven UK National Youth Circuit Races is a wonderful coup.
“We have been growing Torbay as a national and international events capital, and these type of events help to reinforce the message that this is a place people want to live, work and visit.”