THE future of Winchester Criterium is still unknown.

Civic chiefs have completely cut funding for the popular event in a bid to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

A city council spokesperson said that they do not know if it will ever return.

They said: "Winchester City Council has been proud to work with British Cycling over the years to bring the Criterium to Winchester.

"The council has reviewed its priorities in light of changes to local authority budgets, and this means we are unable to provide financial and staff resource required to support the Winchester Criterium event this year.

"We cannot know at this stage if the Criterium will return in the future but we have built a strong relationship with British Cycling which we hope to continue to foster."

This comes just a week after ReesLeisure, organiser of the Southampton Marathon, announced a new cycling event.

It will feature over 3,000 riders out on their bikes taking part in fun activities and those spectating will be encouraged to ride into the city centre on the new cycle lane infrastructure.

Director Chris Rees said: "We are extremely excited to see a return to these sporting events this Autumn. Cycling has seen a boom during lockdown and this will be key to regeneration of the city post Covid.

"There is a real demand for the city to become greener and seeing thousands of local people get on their bikes to spend a day in the city centre will be really exciting."

The route will leave the city and take riders out to the Meon Valley, north of Winchester before heading back to the city centre via Test Valley.