One of Yorkshire’s sporting classics takes place on Sunday when the Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross is staged from Helwith Bridge.

Widely regarded as the toughest off-road cycle race in the world, the event, which embraces more than 40 miles of road and unsurfaced track and covers the towering contours of Ingleborough, Whern-side and Pen-y-Ghent, is being held for the 50th time.

All past champions are expected to be in attendance for this special occasion including four – Fred Salmon, Andy Peace (the first man to win the Three peaks running race and cyclo-cross in the same year, who is an eight- times previous winner and course-record holder), Rob Jebb and defending champion, Nicky Craig – who feature among the maximum entry of 700.

The race, which starts at 9.30am, has once more attracted competitors from the home nations and overseas including twice former world cyclo-cross champion Thomas Frischnecht from Switzerland.

Many fell runners feature in the entry list, and besides Peace and Jebb, two other potent fell-racing figures are Rob Hope – who recently achieved a record-breaking ninth victory in the Kilnsey Crag Race – and Skipton’s Victoria Wilkinson, a winner last weekend in the Home International Mountain Running Championships at the picturesque village of Melmerby, near Penrith.

Wilkinson, stormed to victory over the 10k uphill-only course, finishing at the summit of Hartside Head 1min 15sec clear of England team mate Olivia Walwyn-Bush. England also won team gold.

Indeed, Wilkinson has Three Peaks tyre marks to follow, for 30 years ago her father Chris won the men’s event.

But, contesting the event for the first time, Victoria has a tough task ahead of her amid a similarly strong female entry, including four-times winner and defending champion Louise Robinson, daughter of Britain’s first Tour de France stage winner Brian.

Except for two cancellations due to foot-and-mouth access restrictions, the race has been held annually since 1960.

This, followed a pioneering challenge the previous year by Ermysted’s Grammar School lad Kevin Watson, himself a familiar attender at the race in recent years. He is unfortunately absent this year due to a family wedding down south.

However, the Ermysted’s connection will still be on hand due to Watson’s schoolboy sporting contemporaries, Roger Ingham, who is race commentator.