RURAL villagers fear they will be adversely affected by a cycling event which was moved from October to one of the summer’s busiest weekends for tourism.

Residents attended a public meeting in Eggleston hosted by the organisers of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines Event, to discuss road closures and issues associated with the road cycling challenge, which follows a 60-mile route through the Teesdale countryside, on Sunday, July 20.

Many people are concerned that road closures that day - the first Sunday of the school holidays - will have a negative impact on local small businesses that rely on tourism.

One resident expressed concern that the village would be “cut off” by the road closures.

She said: “There is an extreme groundswell of concern.

“There is a major concern that businesses will suffer.

“A lot of people say it will bring tourism to the area, but although Barnard Castle itself will benefit from that – there isn’t a bed to be had there during the event – other parts of Teesdale are losing out considerably.”

A spokeswoman for IMG Challenger World, which organises the event, said the date was changed to reduce weather risks.

She added: “Consultation with local residents and businesses is an important part of planning for an event and we will always do what we can to be flexible to the needs of the local community.

“In previous years we have also catered for the needs of people who require emergency access to roads or crossing points and following the local residents meeting we have some cases to consider for 2014.”

The event attracts around 3,000 participants and boosted the local economy by around £235,000 last year.