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Mountain bikers gear up for annual event

A record entry of 1,700 mountain bikers will contest the Isle of Man Sleepwell Hotels End to End Challenge next month.

Riders will tackle 75 kilometres of hills, moorland and country lanes as they travel the length of the Island, from the Point of Ayre in the north to Cregneash in the south.

The elite competitors expect to complete the course in around three hours, while those just aiming to finish and beat their best time could take twice as long.

Northern Irish rally driver Kris Meeke will take a break from the World Rally Championship to try his hand at another rather muddy sport and Olympian Nick Craig will also be in the starting line-up.

It had been hoped TT star Guy Martin would return for his third crack at the event, but his racing commitments are likely to keep him away this year.

Around 800 enthusiasts will travel from the United Kingdom and overseas to compete.

Countries represented will include Australia, Israel, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

With an ever increasing interest in the event, chairman of the Manx Mountain Bike Club Steve Honeybone says it's likely future end to end events will expand into a weekend of mountain bike activities.

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