A CYCLING challenge through the heart of Winchester has been officially launched.

The Winchester Criterium is returning to the city for the second year running, with seven closed-circuit races featuring up to 300 competitive riders.

Two new categories have been added – Cyclefest, a family ride, and a challenge for corporate teams.

Crowds of 10,000 are expected to line the one kilometre circuit on Sunday, August 17.

The event was launched on Thursday (June 19) by event director Mark Sandamas, leader of Winchester City Council Cllr Rob Humby, and Steve Brine MP, who is also vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

He said: “This event is now, rightly, a permanent fixture in the Winchester Summer of events. In addition to it being yet another positive presentation of cycling it’s something totally different and that can only be a strength for the city in terms of attracting visitors and providing a fun, yet totally free, family day out.”

The event is organised by Pennine Events in partnership with Winchester City Council. Cyclefest will be in the Broadway from 10am to 2pm on August 17, and will get people in the mood for the big event with stunt displays, vintage bikes, a mountain bike track and ‘roller-racing’ – bike racing to music.