TRIATHLETES will be back taking in the sights of Blackburn with Darwen as they take part in one of world's toughest races ­— which last year was won by local lad Brian Foggerty.

The iconic Ironman UK returns this July and a new bike course has been revealed for this year's race ­— designed to give competitors an "exciting" new challenge and spectators more chance to show their support along the route.

The gruelling Ironman UK triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim in Pennington Flash, a 112-mile bike ride, finishing with a marathon into Bolton town centre.

This year’s bike course will once again take athletes from Pennington Flash, in Leigh, into Bolton town centre.

The course will change at this point from a two-lap course to a three-lap course through the surrounding countryside.

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Athletes will still head along Chorley New Road,Bolton passing transition located in Queen’s Park and along the cobbles of Le Mans Crescent, Bolton town centre before heading to Bury.

Competitors will cycle through Hawkshaw in the opposite direction to last year.

The new course will not be using Ramsbottom; Pickup Bank; Eccleshill; Hoddlesden or Blacksnape Road towards Edgworth.

Instead it will go into Edgworth from Hawkshaw, and then to Chapeltown, past Turton and Entwistle Reservoir with a short stint on the A666.

This will then lead into the descent through Egerton ­— a new addition to the route.

One of the most memorable part of last year’s bike course remains ­— athletes will climb past Black Dog Pub in Belmont and onto Sheephouse Lane, where they will be cheered on by the infamous masked wrestlers.

They will then head back towards Bolton town centre.

From here competitors will go back towards Bury to start the next loop of the course.

The route will be also slightly faster due to a 650ft reduction in climbing.

Sam Brawn, Ironman UK Race Director, said: “Year after year we continue to be inspired by every athlete that has taken on the Ironman UK race.

“We want to make sure our athletes have the best experience possible and because of this, we have decided to make some changes the 2020 bike course.

“As we always do, we wanted to make sure that the athletes experience was a focal point when planning the 2020 race.

“We are excited that this year athletes will get to experience more of the iconic Ironman UK spectators’ support, as their families and friends will get to cheer them on multiple times!”

Blackburn with Darwen Council Leader, Mohammed Khan, said: “We’re really pleased to be welcoming Ironman UK back to Blackburn with Darwen and extra excited to see if Brian can do the borough proud and retain his crown.

“We’ve worked with Bolton Council and Ironman to help make this happen and map out the new route for 2020 with a view to making it the best ever.”

This year will once again see a full, three-day festival weekend of sport with the addition of Night Run on Friday followed by the world’s biggest Ironkids on Saturday , and the main event, Ironman UK on Sunday.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, added: “We are really pleased that the Ironman UK team has listened to feedback from athletes.

“The new route means that we will get even more chance to cheer on athletes and support them on their journey.

“I know local communities will once again be out in force, as they were for Tour of Britain.

“I would also like to thank neighbouring authorities for their support which allows us to put on this great event, attracting thousands to our region.”

For more information on the new bike course and to register, please visit https://www.ironman.com/im-uk.