TRIATHLETES gearing up for this year’s Ironman UK event will face a new cycling route.

The bike course for the iconic Bolton-based race, taking place on July 12, is designed to give competitors an “exciting” new challenge and give spectators more chance to cheer on those taking part.

The gruelling Ironman UK race consists of a 2.4-mile swim in Pennington Flash, a 112-mile bike ride in and around Bolton, finishing with a marathon into Bolton town centre.

The course will change at this point from a two-lap course to a three-lap course through the surrounding countryside.

Athletes will still head along Chorley New Road, passing transition points located in Queen’s Park and along the cobbles of Le Mans Crescent, before heading to Bury.

Competitors will cycle through Hawkshaw in the opposite direction to last year and go into Edgworth on to Chapeltown, past Turton and Entwistle Reservoir with a short stint on the A666.

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This will then lead into the descent through Egerton ­— a new addition to the route.

One of the most memorable parts of last year’s bike course remains ­— athletes will climb past the Black Dog Pub in Belmont and onto Sheephouse Lane, where they will be cheered on by the infamous masked wrestlers.

They will then head back towards Bolton town centre. From here competitors will go back towards Bury to start the next loop of the course.

The route will also be slightly faster due to a 650ft reduction in climbing.

Sam Brawn, Ironman UK race director, said: “We want to make sure our athletes have the best experience possible and because of this, we have decided to make some changes the 2020 bike course.

"We are excited that this year athletes will get to experience more of the iconic Ironman UK spectators’ support, as their families and friends will get to cheer them on multiple times!”

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This year will once again see a three-day festival weekend of sport with the Night Run, Ironkids and Ironman UK.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, added: “We are really pleased that the Ironman UK team has listened to feedback from athletes. The new route means that we will get even more chance to cheer on athletes.

"I know local communities will once again be out in force, as they were for Tour of Britain. I would also like to thank neighbouring authorities for their support which allows us to put on this great event, attracting thousands to our region.”