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ELEVEN thousand cyclists claimed the streets of Southampton as they own as the annual Sky Ride took over the city centre today.

From aficionados to youngsters who had only just discarded the stabilisers, bike riders stretched as far as the eye could see.

Daily Echo:

The 7.8km route starting and finishing in Guildhall Square took in some of Southampton’s key sites such as the Bargate.

Some broke their journey for activities along the route, such as at Houndwell Park and Southampton Common.

These included a cycling obstacle course and a sprint zone to take on other riders.

A “tricks and tunes” area gave a chance to practice bike stunts from a ramp jumping onto an airbag or watch stunts from the Voodoo Unicycles team.

This year saw 1,000 more people out on the route than last year.

Daily Echo:

Olympic gold medallist Jason Queally, Southampton fundraising superman Gus McKechnie and Team Sky professional cyclist Australian Nathan Earle, lined up at the start of the race.

Jason, who often comes to Southampton University to use its wind tunnel, said: “It’s fantastic. It’s always nice to start events where kids and families are enjoying themselves – it’s a privilege to be here.”

Gus, who has raised more than £2million for charity by cycling 50,000 miles aboard Red Funnel ferries, said he was “honoured” to be there.

He added: “Southampton’s got so much to offer and the more of these kind of things we can put on we can show the world and show the country what we’re capable of doing as a city.”

Sky Ride Southampton is one of 15 major events going on in cities across the country this summer.

Daily Echo:

Southampton City Council, in conjunction with British Cycling and Sky, will be running a series of organised 30 bike rides of different distances starting in Southampton from now until September.

Log on to goskyride.com/Southampton for details.