A mass-participation charity cycle ride from Coventry is set to be one of the city’s first events as European City of Sport for 2019, and could raise thousands for charity.

The Starley Sportive will return to Coventry and Warwickshire roads in February with a new, longer route offering cyclists the chance to shake off any final Christmas cobwebs, and raise money for their chosen charities, while kick-starting the European City of Sport celebrations.

Riders, who will set off from the Deeley Group head office on Herald Avenue, have the choice of tackling three distances this year – a 28.6 mile route, a 63.2 mile long-distance ride, or an epic 86.5 mile challenge – the event’s longest ever, in celebration of Coventry’s enhanced sporting profile.

Last year’s event raised over £7,000 for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice, based in Ash Green, as over 260 cyclists made their way across the region. But organisers this year want to encourage participants to select their own charities to benefit from their fund raising efforts.

The charity cycle ride, organised by Coventry Road Club, and supported by property company Deeley Group, recognises the contributions of inventors James and John Kemp Starley to the world of bicycles.

James Starley is known as the father of the bicycle industry, while his nephew John Kemp Starley is widely considered the inventor of the modern bicycle – both worked and lived in Coventry.

February’s event will be the seventh edition of the sportive and Ian Court, Race Secretary at Coventry Road Club, thinks this year will be its biggest yet.

He said: “Last year’s event was a huge success and it would be great to see everyone who came along back for 2019, as well as some new faces.

“We like to hold the Starley Sportive early in the cycling calendar, as it gives people the chance to start their road season with a bang.

“The amount we raised in 2018 was a great achievement, but if we could improve on last year’s fundraising total, that really would be something worth celebrating.”

Edward Hudson, Business Development Manager at the Deeley Group, said: “It would be great to see as many people as possible come along to the sportive and show their support for their chosen charities.

“The Deeley Group has a track record of working with our local community and much of our aims are reflected in the ambitions for the European City of Sport so we felt it was only natural to bring the two together.

 “We will also be using this opportunity to celebrate 2019 as Coventry’s Year of Wellbeing. Our support of the Starley Sportive is a prime example of how Deeley will be engaging with our communities in the hope of promoting healthier lifestyles, both physically and mentally.”

The February ride will be one of Coventry’s first events under the title of European City of Sport.

Coventry City Councillor Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member Public Health and Sport, said: “The sportive is a great way to get people active and to bring out our cycling enthusiasts.

“One of our main aims for our year as European City of Sport is to increase community participation across the city. We know taking part in sport is good for physical and mental well-being and events like this remind us that sport and activity are social as well.

This is an excellent way to raise money for a great cause and get people involved in the sport and I hope lots of people sign up.”

Online entry is priced at £12 and is available until Thursday, February 7, with early bird tickets on offer for £10 until Tuesday, January 1.

On-the-day entry will cost £15 subject to availability, online registration is recommended so riders are not left disappointed; with complimentary tea, coffee and cake for participants after the ride.

Organisers are offering some free places for riders who raise a sponsorship target of £50.

Places for the three distances can be booked online at www.cyclinguk.org/event/starley-sportive-2019