HUNDREDS of competitors and thousands of fans from over 25 different countries are expected to travel to contest the European Cyclo-Cross championships in Ipswich tomorrow.

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The event will help boost participation in cycling across Ipswich and Suffolk, and the region is primed for an economic boost as a result.

Steve Grimwood, event organiser and owner of Elmy Cycles, Ipswich, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It will be an historic weekend for Ipswich.

“The eyes of Europe will be on us and hopefully it will put us on the map.

“Hopefully it will be successful and will prove to be a stepping stone for Ipswich. Hopefully we can get World Cups and other big events here as a result.”

In 2008 UK cycling’s governing body British Cycling, Ipswich Borough Council and event organiser XRT announced Ipswich had been selected to host the 2012 European Cyclo-Cross Championships.

Ipswich created the Team Ipswich initiative in 2004 with local businesses and clubs to promote sport at all levels.

And securing the European Cyclo-Cross Championships was the culmination of years of hard work for XRT event organisers Grimwood, Carl Thompson and the Ipswich Bicycle Club.

“It’s been five years of planning,” added Grimwood.

“Because it’s a non-Olympic discipline we don’t receive government funding which means we have to work harder and get help from sponsors and volunteers.

“But we have been trying hard to get it over here for 10 or 15 years. We are passionate about the sport and wanted Ipswich to host it.

“I’ve been travelling all over Europe watching the sport and really wanted to get it here.

“The governing body UCI (International Cycling Union) were desperate to see a world standard event held in the UK.

“Our bid was accepted five years ago and now here we are. It’s fantastic for Ipswich and I can’t wait for it.”

Roger Hammond, who won the last world championship held in Britain in 1992, will be the guest of honour, handing out the medals to the winners.

Meanwhile, Grimwood believes protégé Hugo Robinson, who competes on both days including the U23 European Championships on Saturday, has a bright future ahead of him.

“Hugo has a lot of years to go at Under-23 level and so won’t be expected to finish in a podium position,” added Grimwood, whose XRT Elmy Cycles Robinson rides for.

“But hopefully he will get a really strong result. He has got a lot of potential and has got a possibility of making it as a professional.”

Saturday November 3

European Championships

11:00: Junior Championships

12:30: Under 23 Championships

14:30: Elite Women Championship

Admission: Free. Car Park: £5

Sunday November 4

National Cyclo-Cross Championships

10:30: Veterans

11:30: Junior and Women

13:30: Youth

14:30: Seniors

Admission: Free. Car Park: Free

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