THE Tour de France captured the collective imagination of Britain just over a week ago.

And the arrival of the world’s best known cycling event has arrived at the same time as plans to set up two major cycling races in Essex next year.

The Tour of Essex attracted some of the top British riders of the day when it ran in the late 70s and early 1980s.

Brian Moran helped organised the event 40 years ago and is already well down the road to setting up two races for next year.

“I saw the Tour de France in Finchingfield and it was truly amazing,” said Moran.

“The advertising caravan and the journalists in the press cars were stopping to take photos of the crowd and when the riders came through you could see they were gobsmacked too.

“The Tour de France is an occasion and it is people who make it so good.

“I’m trying to create a spectacular event and want to involve the community in an event – that’s more important than the cycling to me.”

Moran, who lives in Spain but regularly returns to Essex to work on his plans, aims to have a spring race, called the Essex Trophy, which starts and finishes on Southend seafront.

And he also hopes to stage an autumn race, called the Essex Grand Tour, which will begin and end in Chelmsford.

He has spent two years negotiating with councils, Essex police and local landowners to create the race and is confident of launching the inaugural event in 2015.

“Most of it is planned and it’s only the money that is sole problem at the moment,” Moran added.

“I am currently meeting sponsorship brokers and potential sponsors.

“The provisional dates are April 19 and September 20 next year and I’m very confident of achieving that.”

Moran estimates it will cost £50,000 to stage the two races and around half that sum will be taken up by the costs of policing the event and paying for other race officials.

If he is successful it will take the number of major races in the county to three.

“There is a good local race run just outside Colchester in March but other than that there is no major event in the county which is run by the people of Essex, and I think that is a shame,”

Moran said.

“I think it’s important because we used to have two very prestigious races in the county, the Grand Prix of Essex and my Tour of Essex, and they both fell apart because of money.

“I belong to the Beacontree Wheelers but will go out to all the clubs in Essex to drum up support.

“I’m working on the theory that these will be good events that people will want to support by riding and marshalling.”