HUNDREDS of York school children are learning mountain biking skills ahead of the Grand Départ.

Primary schools across the city are introducing their pupils to mountain biking in a project inspired by the forthcoming Tour de France.

Ten primary schools - Badger Hill, Clifton with Rawcliffe, Elvington CE, Hob Moor, New Earswick, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs RC, St Wilfrid’s RC, Stockton on the Forest, Wigginton and Woodthorpe - were randomly selected to offer the sessions to their pupils aged nine to 11.

Each school will host two sessions, organised by City of York Council’s sport and active leisure team, with a total of 24 pupils from each school taking part. The training, run by local company Grit, Track and Trail, will see temporary obstacle courses built at each school with the youngsters having to negotiate wooden structures from log rides, humpback bridges, balance beams and cambered corners to small drops and a see saw.

Cllr Janet Looker, cabinet member for education, said: “These sessions will teach young people important skills such as balance and bike handling as well as being great fun. Mountain biking builds leg strength and endurance, burns fat and contributes to an overall sense of happiness and well-being which are all important in the development of children.”

The mountain bike course will be set up at the Grand Départ spectator hub at York Racecourse on Sunday, July 6 in the Sport Activation Zone. Anyone who has a spectator ticket for this hub can try the course for free on the day.

Cllr Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for tourism said: “The schools project will introduce York pupils to the love of mountain biking and is another example of the city working to build the impact of the Tour de France by encouraging more people to cycle more often and providing opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in cycling.”