Ryan Taylor and James Perch

Newcastle United stars Ryan Taylor and James Perch have thrown their full support behind this year's inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone.

Previously the Northern Rock Cyclone, the UK's biggest cycling event was renamed following Virgin Money's acquisition of the Geordie mortgage lender on 1st January, 2012.

The 2012 Virgin Money Cyclone will feature four days of cycling for the first time since its inception in 2006, from Thursday 28th June, to Sunday 1st July.

The new Thursday evening ride is a more relaxed ride which is specifically aimed at less experienced riders and young families. Called the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride, it will feature two gentle routes of nine-and-a-half and 14-and-a-half miles along the banks of the River Tyne, starting from Newcastle Quayside. The ride takes in the Millennium, Tyne, Swing, High Level, Redheugh and Scotswood bridges and begins at 7pm.

Fr0day night sees the return of the ever-popular Leazes Park Criteriums and on Saturday the inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone challenge takes place - with riders having a choice of 33, 63 and 104-mile routes.

Whilst the Sunday sees the addition of a new women's race - the Curlew Cup - this follows the outstanding success of the Women's National Road Race Championships which formed part of the Cyclone in 2011. The professional male riders will once again be competing for the prestigious Beaumont Trophy.

United defender James Perch said: "It is great that Virgin Money is continuing to sponsor the Cyclone cycling festival.

"It is a great weekend that brings families and friends together, similar to when they come to watch us play at home. I hope that the Virgin Money Cyclone continues to grow from strength to strength and that more and more people take part as cycling is a great activity for all the family to enjoy."

Ryan Taylor added: "This year sees the new Thursday night event take place for the first time and I would urge anyone thinking of taking part to sign up. What could be better than cycling down the banks of the famous River Tyne taking in some of the most iconic views not only in the North East but in the UK."

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