Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 12.07.20THE Tour’s just around the corner – and there’s a packed programme of fun lined up for the whole family.

Middlesbrough’s very own Enjoy the Ride festival is officially launched this week as the clock counts down to the arrival of the peloton for the start of Stage 3 of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire on Sunday, May 1.

Middlesbrough’s stage is themed on the area’s historic links with Captain James Cook, and will see the peloton pass a series of local landmarks before heading into the leg-sapping hills of the North York Moors.

Enjoy the Ride will feature a feast of sport and leisure activity from community cycle rides to the arts and great food, both in the build-up to the big day and beyond.

It’s an open invitation to residents and visitors to explore all the town has to offer and a celebration of the Tour de Yorkshire’s historic first visit.

The fun is already under way, women and girls have the opportunity to learn new cycling skills fortnightly at Middlesbrough Sports Village’s Cycle Circuit. While accredited track riders have been enjoying the new outdoor Velodrome.

Great events lined up over the Easter holiday include Learn to Ride sessions and a Bike Swap so that families can trade in bikes their children have outgrown. (March 29 and 30).

Families are also encouraged to get on their bikes to visit the town’s attractions in the build-up to the tour’s arrival with Easter Holiday activities on at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), Dorman Museum and The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum and plenty to do in local parks which are all along the Middlesbrough route.

Highlights over the coming weeks include social rides, Ride the Route events for both the Middlesbrough neutral route and the challenging Stage 3, themed rides including The Tour of Teesside, bike maintenance sessions, schools cycling festivals, and coaching courses.

Full details can be found on the lovemiddlesbrough website and further announcements – including a headline sponsor – will be made over the coming weeks.

The festival’s centrepiece takes place the weekend of the Tour, with a dynamic programme guaranteed to keep the town centre buzzing.

A Community Stage will be sited on Corporation Road (Saturday, April 30-Monday, May 2) with live performances and fun and games. Heart North East host the proceedings and there will be plenty of daring and hilarious street entertainment (Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1).

Sunday May 1 will feature a rousing send-off for the peloton from Centre Square just after 11, followed by a vibrant Enjoy the Ride Carnival and Bike Parade inspired by the voyages of Captain Cook.

A fun day is planned in Stewart Park for those who wish to spot the peloton from Captain Cook’s birthplace.

Additional creative happenings take place throughout town with the support of the Tees Valley Community Foundation.

The bike-based fun continues on Bank Holiday Monday (May 2) with the launch of the Enjoy the Ride Street Races which will see riders of all ages competing in a series of races around a town centre circuit from 10am to 4pm.

The Street Races are being organised by Cleveland Wheelers and it is hoped this will become an annual feature on Middlesbrough’s calendar.

Riders and spectators can refuel at Middlesbrough eateries taking part in Middlesbrough Restaurant Week May 2-8.

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Hosting the start of the final stage of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire event is a fantastic opportunity for the town, and one we’re grabbing with both hands.

“There’s already a real buzz about the Tour, and there’s lots of work under way to ensure everyone involved – from the pro riders to the youngest spectators – have a day to remember.

Enjoy the Ride will help to build excitement in the run-up to Sunday, May 1, but it will also ensure the Tour leaves behind it a lasting legacy.”

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