ENTRIES have opened for the new Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Mercia which will take place on August 18 in Cheshire.

Organisers IMG also revealed the full, inspiring entry level route for the cycling event, which winds through the West Cheshire countryside taking in highlights such as Beeston Castle and Delamere Forest.

Two weeks ago, Dame Sarah Storey launched the new closed road sportive and since then excited riders have been able to register their interest in the new 69-mile event.

The event website, www.etapemercia.co.uk has seen high levels of traffic so places are expected to be snapped up quickly.

In addition to general entries, 400 free charity pledge places will be available to those willing to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

With strong links to charity partners, the Etape Series has also been instrumental in encouraging participants to raise well in excess of £1.5m over its seven year history for its title charity partners.

The Etape Mercia route starts and finishes with a lap of the famous Oulton Park racing circuit, located in Little Budworth, which is home to rounds of the British Superbike and British Touring Car Championships.

The route passes through the village of Tarporley and loops around Beeston Castle.

The course then winds north, passing through Kelsall, Dunham, Simmonds Hill and Kingsley.

From this point, riders then hit their first hill before passing through Delamere Forest and uphill through Little Switzerland, passing scenic views from the Mid Cheshire Ridge on the way.

The route then winds its way back to Oulton Park for a final victory lap before finishing on the circuit’s finish line.

Full details of the route can be found at etapemercia.co.uk/coursemaps.html.

Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Series ambassador Dame Sarah Storey said: “I’m so excited to see the interest building for this fantastic cycling event in my local area. I was up on the route recently and it really is spectacular.

“It is a mass participation event, it’s non-competitive, and people will have their own little personal goals that they will want to achieve and that’s perfect and it is what sport is about. It is about doing the best you can and enjoying yourself in the process.”