THE spectre of coronavirus did not put off keen cyclists from taking part in the gruelling 7 Hills mountain bike challenge around the Isle of Wight countryside on Sunday.

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Around 170 took part in the third annual race, just a handful short of last year’s record number, which followed a course designed to test a rider’s strength, endurance and determination.

The first riders through were Wight Mountain shop and E-bike riders Russ Newnham (02.06.39) and Will Downer (02.06.46).

Event co-organiser, Gareth Shilton, said: “After deliberations and taking advice, the 7 Hills event went ahead, with extra precautions, in light of the recent Covid-19 virus.

“The riders left Freshwater Bay in blustery conditions — their goal, the finish line, 26 miles away at Sandown Airport.

“The course was mostly off-road and was steep, slippery and muddy in places.”