The Tour of Britain - Devon Stage
Posted: 6th July 2011
Article by: Peter Hodges
DEVON will be celebrating its status as a premier destination for cycling tourism when it hosts its first ever full stage of The Tour of Britain in September.
Stage Five of Britain's premier cycle race will cover around 110 miles of the county on Thursday 15 September, as 96 of the world's top professional cyclists compete to wear the new IG Markets Gold Jersey, which replaces the yello
w jersey. This year's route, hosted by Devon County Council, goes from Exeter to Exmouth - but taking the long way round.
Rapha Condor Sharp riders Jon Tiernan-Locke, Zak Dempster, Casey Munro and Tom Southam today (Friday 1 July) got a chance to check out the start and finish locations of the Devon Stage.
Rather than trekking the full distance of the Stage, they took the Exe Estuary Trail - something which spectators will have the opportunity to do on the day of the race if they want to see both the start and finish of the event.
The riders were joined by pupils from Topsham Primary and Bassetts Farm Primary Schools who have received Bikeability training from Devon County Council. Team Qoroz/South West Bike Academy rider Jack Reed and local authority representatives were also on hand as Devon County Council officially opened the latest section of the Exe Estuary Trail between Exton and Topsham.
On 15 September, The Tour will take in Dartmoor National Park as well as a number of other communities including Pathfinder Village, Tedburn St Mary, Moretonhampstead, Bovey Tracey, Postbridge, Bow, Broadclyst and West Hill.
The riders will have to tackle three King of the Mountains climbs at Haytor, Coffin Stone, and Huccaby Tor, as well as three intermediate Yodel Sprints at Cheriton Bishop, Crediton and Rockbeare.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "We can't wait for the Tour of Britain to return to Devon, particularly as this is the first time we'll have hosted a complete stage in the county. Over the past few years we have had record crowds turning out to see the race and this prestigious event generates vital income for local businesses.
We'll be hoping that people from home and abroad come back to Devon again to see some of the world's top cyclists in action.
"We're honoured that some of the Rapha Condor Sharp riders joined us for the opening of the latest section of The Exe Estuary Trail. It's already a popular route with cyclists of all ages and abilities - even before it's complete. The Trail is one of our landmark routes as we aim to become a cycling county, and on the day of the Devon Stage of The Tour it will enable spectators to catch the race in both Exeter and Exmouth as well as enjoying a scenic ride along the Estuary."
The Tour of Britain has generated an additional £11million in the region's economy in the past two years. From those who responded to a County Council survey at last year's event, 95% said they considered Devon to be a premier destination for an active holiday and 88% said that they would return to Devon as a result of their visit during The Tour.
Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, said: "The Tour enables us to put Devon in the spotlight which has long term benefits for our economy. It's pleasing to have had such positive feedback from visitors last year and it demonstrates the role that cycling tourism can play in attracting people to our county. All of the locations on this year's stage will offer a fantastic backdrop for the race."
The Grand Depart of the 2011 Tour will be from Scotland on Sunday 11 September, with the race finishing in London on Sunday 18 September. Among the 16 world class teams lined up to compete over the eight days are Sky Professional Cycling Team, Team HTC - Highroad, Garmin Cervelo, Leopard Trek, Endura Racing and Rapha Condor Sharp.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of The Tour of Britain, said: "While this year's Devon stage may start and finish just a few miles apart, the route itself takes in a great swathe of the county, allowing spectators from across Devon to enjoy the spectacle of this country's national cycling tour. In 2010 Dartmoor produced some of the most memorable photographs and television pictures of the entire race, so I'm sure this year will be no different, especially on what looks to be a very tough and challenging route.
"Exeter is a city we know very well from The Halfords Tour Series, so I'm certain that we will see some of the largest crowds of The Tour of Britain there on Thursday 15 September. With Exmouth being just a short cycle ride down the Exe Estuary Trail, it makes a great opportunity for spectators to enjoy a day at The Tour, seeing both the start and finish, while enjoying this fantastic cycling route that Devon County Council has created."
The overall winner of Tour of Britain 2010 was Swiss rider Michael Albasini of Team HTC-Columbia, who wore the Yellow Jersey throughout last year's two South West stages shared by Devon and Somerset. The South West stages were seen by more than a million British viewers on ITV4, as well as being beamed across the world to countries including Australia, New Zealand, Italy and South Africa.
The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity. Don't forget this summer your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride five stages from The Tour of Britain. Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!