THE sun shone down as the North East was blessed with several major sporting events.
For racegoers there was the Northumberland Plate Festival, road runners enjoyed the Sunderland 10k and thousands of cyclists hit the winding country roads of Northumberland for the Northern Rock Cyclone Challenge.
The National Elite Road Race Championships, the third day of the event, attracted some of the UK’s top cyclists.
Organisers welcomed more than 4,000 club and recreational cyclists, with many riding on behalf of charities.
The women’s race started in Stamfordham, Northumberland, yesterday at 9.30am, followed by the men’s race at 1.30pm.
The challenge started on Friday evening with the Leazes Criteriums, a series of races around Newcastle’s Leazes Park.
And Saturday saw riders descend on the Newcastle Falcons’ rugby ground, in Kingston Park, before taking to the roads for 33, 63 and 104-mile challenges.
Peter Harrison, organiser of the event, said: “2007 was the inaugural year of the event and it is now established as one of the biggest events in the national cycling calendar, in addition to being on the international sporting calendar.
“We would like to thank all of our sponsors, including Jennings Motor Group, whose loyal and generous support is greatly appreciated.”
The Cyclone Challenge is one of the UK’s premier cycling events where non-competitive cyclists can test their fitness and set themselves a personal challenge, as well as bringing some of the world’s elite to the region.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, an estimated 20,000 people turned out for the Northumberland Plate – one of the highlights of sporting calendar.
The prestigious event at Newcastle Racecourse saw revellers get through some 6,000 bottles of Champagne.
Racegoers enjoyed hospitality in marquees around the course, with a new luxury option available for the first time. Guests who shelled out £400 a ticket enjoyed exclusive service in the Diamond Marquee, complete with à la carte food, a magician, and unrivalled views.
A team of 50 chefs and 50 hospitality managers worked throughout the weekend to cater for the crowds.
Among those enjoying the festivities was 20-year-old student Kelsey McDonald, of Dumpling Hall, Newcastle, who said: “It’s my first time here and it’s great. I think people always like to make an effort and dress up. The weather wasn’t great in the morning but then the sun came out.”