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Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 11:21 UK
Tour of Britain cycle race returns to Staffordshire
Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta team
Stone's Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta team hope to repeat their Tour Series win

Some of the world's greatest cyclists will take to the streets of Staffordshire when the Tour of Britain race returns to the area this weekend.

The route will see riders cycle 145 kilometres through the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent as part of the city's centenary celebrations.

The finish line will be outside BBC Stoke's offices in Hanley.

It is the third year running that a stage of the race has taken place in the city and county as a whole.

"The contribution that people in Stoke-on-Trent make to making the event a success is something that really resounded with us, and is one of the main reasons we're coming back," said Hugh Roberts, CEO of the Tour of Britain.

"If people go that extra mile on our behalf, as they have here, we like to repay that loyalty by coming back and building a relationship on previous years. Also geographically, Stoke-on-Trent is ideal - right in the middle of the country," he added.

Energy sapping hills

This year's route begins on Scotia Road in Burslem, close to the junction with Moorland Road at 10.15 am. The race will then wind its way through Trentham and Stone and out into the Staffordshire countryside.

As last year, the riders will have to climb Wootton Hill, before heading into Leek and onto the notorious energy-sapping Gun Hill.

Edvald Boasson Hagen
Edvald Boasson Hagen is going for 3 wins in a row in Stoke-on-Trent.

From there it's through Cheddleton, Blythe Bridge and Barlaston, before heading for the finish line in Hanley City Centre at around 2 o'clock.

It's right opposite BBC Radio Stoke's offices in Cheapside and is also the scene of last year's sprint victory by Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen. He also won the Stoke stage in 2008.

"The race is going around more of Stoke-on-Trent then it's done in other years, but our highways department tell me they're OK with it and it can be done," said Councillor Derek Capey from Stoke-on-Trent city council.

"There will be some road closures which can upset some people, but there are thousands more who enjoy the race. We do tell people well in advance, and there's always an alternative route," he added.

As well as roads being closed in the immediate vicinity of the start and finish lines, Albion Street in Hanley will be closed all day, with part of Potteries Way and Broad Street shut for some time.

There will be no on-street parking in Barlaston Road, Trentham Road, Victoria Road and Lichfield Street.

Thousands of people lined the route to cheer on the riders last year, and Derek Capey says road closures are a small price to pay for the benefits to the city's economy that the Tour brings.

"The fact that the Tour of Britain team keep coming back to Stoke-on-Trent shows we're up there, and even ahead of some of the cities that are trying to get this race," he said.

"It really does a lot for Stoke-on-Trent. All the hotels will be full and a lot of businesses really make money out of this day."

Ones to watch

For the third year in a row Stone-based Motorpoint Marshall's Pasta team are competing in the Tour of Britain.

The team have had a rider in the top ten in the past two years, in the shape of Russell Downing, who's now riding with Team Sky with last year's winner Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Ian Bibby
Motorpoint rider Ian Bibby won the Tour Series event in Hanley

In his place, the team snapped up a number of rising British stars including Olympic gold medallists Ed Clancy and Steven Burke, and Ian Bibby who won the Tour Series event in Hanley back in June.

The team can also boast former Tour De France and Milk Race rider Malcolm Elliott, who's still going strong at the age of 49.

Another rider with local links is ex-British road race champion Kristian House, of the Rapha Condor Sharp team. He used to live on Victoria Road in Fenton.

Tour ride

Thousands of amateur cyclists will also take to the region's roads two weeks after the Tour of Britain, for the Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride on 26 September.

They'll be following the same route as the professional cyclists and can either go the full 145km or take the shorter 70km course. There are also 20km family rides.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of prostate cancer and helping raise funds to fight the disease, and Nicola Babalaine and John Pickard from TV soap Hollyoaks are taking part.

"My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years ago," said Nicola.

"He survived it fortunately, but it's obviously the aim of the charity to raise awareness and make sure there's more survivors."

The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Rides cost £40 for the full stage distances, £30 for the 70km distances and £20 for a family of four to do the 20km Family Rides, but places are limited.

You can find out more on the Prostate Cancer Charity's Tour Rides website .

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