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Etape Pennines Attracts Cyclists of All Types to the Closed Roads of County Durham

by Nick Gregory

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This weekend over 1,000 extraordinary cyclists took to the closed roads of County Durham for the 2014 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines, one of the UK's toughest sportives.  

Among them was 18 year old County Durham born Adam Holmes, who decided to take on the Etape Pennines challenge as his first ever sportive, and Keith Edwards, who was riding to complete a four event challenge which he has undertaken to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. 

Adam Holmes said: "I bought a road bike at the end of 2012 and have been riding ever since. I've never taken part in a sportive before but the Etape Pennines with its closed roads and being so close to home - the route runs straight past my house - I felt like this was the one for me. I also wanted to ride the event to fundraise for Marie Curie Cancer Care." 

Earlier this year event Ambassadors Jonathan Edwards and Steven Burke took part in the Etape Pennines Training Ride. The two elite athletes met up in April and took on 45 miles of the 60 mile Etape Pennines route. 

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Burke said: "This event has drummed up quite a reputation amongst cyclists. I was born in this part of the world and these are the roads I have cycled on all my life so I know how tough they can be on the legs. It is a beautiful area with stunning scenery and incredible variety of roads, perfect for a closed road cycling event!" 

Jonathan Edwards said: "The Etape Series has a good reputation among cyclists because they are well-organised and the routes are stunning. Pennines is definitely a big event to take on, it's tough and the climbs are gruelling but the sense of accomplishment seems unbelievable." 

On completing his fourth and final cycling challenge, Keith Edwards, added: "I expected the Etape Pennines to be tough, but it was more challenging than I had expected.  There are some very severe climbs and tough gradients but the camaraderie amongst the other cyclists really helped, especially during the last 20 miles." 

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The 2014 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines has attracted a record number of women riders, having quadrupled compared to the 2013 event. Pippa Tanner, who travelled from Sandhurst, commented: "The course was beautiful but very challenging - when they said it was brutal they were definitely right! My family encouraged us to take part in the event and an important factor was definitely the fact that we could fundraise for Marie Curie Cancer Care in the process.  The support we've had has been fantastic, the volunteers at the feed station were brilliant. It was lovely to see so many locals out on the route cheering us on.  The sun even came out for us!" 

The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines has established itself as one of the biggest challenges on the cycling calendar, attracting top amateur cyclists and club athletes. The route included several challenging uphill climbs and exhilarating downhill sections, giving participants one of the most demanding, yet rewarding, experiences in cycling. 

James Robinson, Managing Director at IMG Challenger World, said: "We are absolutely delighted with how well the event went this weekend, and even happier that the weather held off for our hardy participants." 

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Many of the riders raised vital funds for the events charity partner, Marie Curie Cancer Care, which will enable Marie Curie Nurses to provide more nursing care and support to terminally ill people and their families across the UK. 

India Turner-Lees, Event Manager of the Etape Series at Marie Curie Cancer Care, said: "Participants of the Etape Series have been supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care for three years and it remains a real privilege for us to be the official Charity Partner. We're on track to reach our £1 million target through the partnership, which is an outstanding achievement. A huge congratulations to everyone who completed the course, especially those that made up Team Daffodil." 

Etape Pennines caps off a fantastic year for the Etape Series which also includes Etape Caledonia. To keep up with all the latest news from the Etape Series, visit www.etapecaledonia.co.uk and www.etapepennines.co.uk.