Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 15.58.27THE Tour de Yorkshire’s coming – but a group of intrepid local cyclists have beaten the peloton to it.

The world’s best racers will be doing battle between Middlesbrough and Scarborough on Sunday, May 1 as the 2016 Tour reaches a thrilling climax.

So on Sunday (April 17) more than 30 bike enthusiasts gathered at Middlesbrough Sports Village to give the hilly and testing 198km stage a try for themselves.

Led by Middlesbrough Planning Technical Officer John Manders and featuring members of local cycling clubs including NRG Cycles and Cleveland Wheelers, the group hoovered up imaginary King of the Mountain points as they pressed on over Blakey Ridge and down into Castleton and on to Danby.

With the hardy among the group staying for the full route, the riders strung out as they entered the leg-sapping ‘lumpy’ section of Stage 3, with notable challenges including the climb up Limber Hill.

Through Glaisdale, Egton and climbing out of Grosmont to more King of the Mountains glory, the riders sped on to Whitby and the final feed station at Robin Hood’s Bay.

After a final King of the Mountains challenge, Scarborough was finally in sight, a welcome boost to tiring legs.

With some 125 miles in the saddle and almost 8,000ft of climbing behind them, the group arrived at the finish line in Scarborough in around seven and a quarter hours.

John said: “Oliver’s Mount will be a great sting in the tail on race day but to our disappointment it was closed to the public to make way for motorbike racing.

“There was no sprint finish for us, but a large section of cobbles linking the two bays could be crucial come race day, especially if wet.

“It was a truly hard ride and an epic day in the saddle, and a fantastic time was had by all. It will be fascinating to see what the professionals make of it on the big day!”

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Congratulations to all who took part and completed what must have been a very tough ride.

“It’s a great achievement, and I’m sure the professionals will appreciate the great countryside that makes this whole area so special – although they may not quite enjoy it so much when they’re racing at full bore.”

For full details of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire, visit letour.yorkshire.com/ and for regular updates on Middlesbrough’s build-up to the big day, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk and lovemiddlesbrough.com/enjoytheride