NO GO: England's Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson at the launch of Velo North earlier this year
NO GO: England's Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson at the launch of Velo North earlier this year

A CONTROVERSIAL cycling event has been cancelled.

Organisers say the Velo North event, backed by Durham County Council, failed to attract enough interest among cyclists.

It had been planned for Sunday, September 1, and would have meant road closures of up to eight hours in some parts of Teesdale, which led to criticism of a lack of consultation and anger over the impact it would have on the farming community and other businesses.

Richard Relton, CEO of organisers CSM Active, said: “We are very disappointed to announce that, unfortunately, we have had to cancel the inaugural Vélo North, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 1.

“This was a very difficult decision to take but, despite our best efforts, the number of cyclists that signed up was not sufficient to justify the event going ahead.

“We apologise to everyone who had entered and was looking forward to taking part – we hope you understand our reasoning and appreciate that this was not a decision we took lightly.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Durham County Council for its support throughout the planning of the event. We were so excited at the prospect of delivering a Vélo Series event in the North East and are incredibly disappointed that we have not been able to do this.

“Anyone who has registered for the event should have now received an email detailing how they can claim a refund on their entry fee, transfer their entry to Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, or donate their entry fee to the lead charity partner for the Vélo Series – Prostate Cancer UK.”

The Velo North had been launched in a blaze of publicity with England's Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson backing the event.

Stephen Howell, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “We are incredibly disappointed that Vélo North will not now go ahead but we understand CSM’s decision.

“We were particularly looking forward to welcoming cyclists from outside the region to take part in the event as we believe our county offers a great opportunity for cycling.”

We'll have full reaction to Velo North's cancellation in next week's Mercury