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203The teams that will battle it out in this year’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series – which will make a welcome return to Durham City later this month – have been announced.

The series will see six teams of professional cyclists competing for victory across the 10 rounds taking place across the country between Thursday 12 May and Thursday 9 June.

They will be joined by a number of guest teams who will get to compete wheel-to-wheel with the professionals – including North East team Planet X Northside which will take part in the Northern rounds.

Durham’s tough cobbled route features as round six on this year’s race calendar and the popular event is expected to bring thousands of spectators to the city’s streets on Tuesday 31 May.

Teams taking part in this year’s series – now in its eighth year – are Madison Genesis, Pedal Heaven, Team Raleigh GAC, NFTO, JLT Condor presented by Mavic, Team WIGGINS, Planet X Northside, VCUK PH Mas, Wheelbase Atura MGD, Scottish Cycling and Provision.

Cllr Maria Plews, Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning at Durham County Council, said: “The Pearl Izumi Tour Series is always a popular event and we’re looking forward to welcoming Britain’s top cyclists back to our city.

“We’re expecting to see thousands of people lining the route to cheer on the teams as they tackle the cobbles and steep climbs that are a renowned feature of the Durham City round.

“It’s a great atmosphere and we’re reminding those coming in to the city to watch to arrive early and plan their journey in advance.”

The Pearl Izumi Tour Series Sixth Round action on Tuesday 31 May will get underway with a number of pre-race events, starting at 4.45pm with the Blue Light Race, between cyclists from the county’s police and fire services.

This will be followed by the Durham City Velo cycle club ride at 5pm; Bishop Auckland Cycle Club ride at 5.15pm; the universities race, with teams from Durham, Sheffield, York and Derby, at 5.30pm; and two laps of the circuit by members of the local cycling club Hetton Hawks at 5.45pm.

The warm-up for the main event will start at 6.30pm with the cyclists being under starters orders at 7.30pm.

Presentations to the winning cyclists from this year’s sixth round will take place at 8.45pm.

Throughout the evening the crowds will be entertained by Oompah Brass – which will also be performing in the 10th Durham Brass Festival between 14 and 17 July.

People going to watch the event can park at County Hall or at the park and ride sites at Howlands and Sniperley.

Park and ride buses will only operate until the normal time of 7pm but the car parks will remain open for those wishing to walk back from town.