The Tour of Britain is a race of which everyone in the country can be ‘really proud’, says British Cycling chief executive, Ian Drake.
Drake will be among the spectators as the Tour arrives in his home city of Nottingham on Friday, when some of the world’s top riders will complete stage 6 of the eight-stage race at the city’s Forest Recreation Ground.
Now in the 12th year of its modern incarnation, the Tour has again attracted a stellar line-up of riders and teams, and enormous crowds on the streets of villages, towns and cities throughout Wales, Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Scotland. Stages in the Midlands and East Anglia, and Sunday’s finale in London are still to come.
“The Tour of Britain is everyone’s tour,” says Drake. “Everyone has got the potential to go out there and see the world’s best athletes competing on Britain’s roads. It’s something that everyone should feel really proud of.
“The anticipation of the world’s best bike riders coming through your town or city is something I’d urge everyone to experience, and it provides that inspiration to get hundreds of thousands more people on a bike.”
British Cycling’s ‘inspiration to participation’ strategy is something that has contributed to the huge surge in cycling’s popularity in this country in recent years, and the Tour of Britain has played its part in encouraging more people to take up cycling as a sport, leisure activity or a sustainable, cost-effective mode of transport.
Drake continues: “The Tour is helping to transform communities, and helping to transform Britain in to a cycling nation. We know that nearly 80% of people who watched the Tour of Britain last year were then inspired to go out and ride their bike.
“Major events like the Tour of Britain are absolutely critical to our plans to grow the sport even further.
"We’ve already influenced 1.7million people to ride a bike since 2008 and we really want to be in the ballpark of influencing over half a million people a year to start riding their bike regularly.
“I think by doing that, we start looking at cycling as a higher purpose; it can really change the lives of individuals, it can change the lives of communities, the economic impact will be massive and we can have a whole nation of really happy people that are going to be enjoying the sport, and hopefully some will go on to continue to fuel our international success.”