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North East Cycling Festival Has Uncertain Future

by Holly Blades

The Cyclone Festival of Cycling is the North-East's biggest cycling event and one of the best-loved and longest running cycling festivals in the UK. However, it faces an uncertain future unless a new headline sponsor can be found.

Though its ground-breaking multi-day format has been much imitated, since it was launched in 2006, the Cyclone retains a unique charm of its own, thanks to its spectacular Northumberland setting and every year enjoys the support of thousands of participants, spectators and a local community that have taken the event to their hearts.

However, although the next Cyclone Festival is going ahead as planned on the 15th to 17th June 2018, the absence of a major sponsor means that organiser, Peter Harrison, fears that it may be the last edition. The Cyclone Festival has enjoyed a proud history of headline sponsors, but has run at a loss since the end of Virgin Money's support in 2016.

Sponsorship helps to underwrite the considerable costs associated with running three days of meticulously organised cycling events.  In particular, the Beaumont Trophy, one of the UK's most historic elite men's races, and the traditional climax of the festival weekend, incurs costs that are potentially unsustainable after 2018.
Ironically, as we head towards next year's 67th running, the Beaumont Trophy's reputation has never been better: nowadays it enjoys international status and is and is sanctioned by the world governing body of cycling, the UCI. Recent high profile winners have included Bradley Wiggins in 2009 and 2011.

Peter Harrison explains the situation: "The Cyclone Festival offers something for everyone: families and young children enjoy our Friday evening rides by the Tyne; club and leisure cyclists ride Saturday's Cyclone Challenge Rides in their thousands; elite men's and women's teams then race over the same roads on the Sunday. We raise thousands of pounds for charities every year and enjoy tremendous support from the local communities through which our events pass. But, despite running the whole weekend on a not-for-profit basis, we still need the backing of a major sponsor if we are to continue running and developing the weekend."

"We are looking to find a major backer who will headline across the whole weekend. In return we can offer them a well-established platform for their brand. Messages of sustainability, corporate responsibility, health and fitness all sit well alongside the way we promote and run the Festival."

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