Posted on: 15 August 2012
With Great Britain celebrating its most successful Olympic Games in over 100 years, more unforgettable cycling moments are expected as The Tour of Britain returns to Devon for a sixth time next month.
Devon County Council will host the Devon Stage of Britain’s premier cycle race on Saturday 15 September. Riders will cover virtually the length of the county, starting in Barnstaple and taking in Dartmoor National Park before finishing in Dartmouth 106 miles (170.7km) later.
The county’s connection with The Tour started back in 2007, when the race briefly crossed into the county from Somerset with a steep descent into Lynmouth before a King of the Mountains climb to Watersmeet, on its way back into Somerset to finish in Taunton. The following year, Tiverton, South Molton, and North Molton all featured as the Stage again started and finished in Somerset.
Devon’s association with The Tour has grown ever since and it has brought more than £14million into the local economy, as well as showcasing the county to a worldwide TV audience.
Devon County Council co-hosted two South West Stages with Somerset County Council in 2009 and again in 2010, with Hatherleigh and Tavistock providing the venues as stage starts, and Bideford and Teignmouth holding stage finishes.
Last year was the first time that Devon had hosted an entire stage of The Tour, as the route stretched from Exeter to Exmouth, via Dartmoor. Dartmoor again features this year and the route also passes through communities including Bideford, Hatherleigh, Instow, Great Torrington, Okehampton, Princetown, Tavistock, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge, Torcross and Stoke Fleming.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Following such a successful London Olympics and Bradley Wiggins winning a Gold Medal just days after becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France, more people are being inspired to take up or get back into cycling. Ever since the early years of our participation in The Tour of Britain, the appetite for cycling in Devon has grown year on year, and our involvement in the event has done the same. The Tour is the perfect platform to highlight Devon as a premier destination for cycling tourism.”
Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, said: “The economy is the big winner with The Tour of Britain, and it’s not just about the towns hosting the starts and finishes. Other areas of the Stage, such as Dartmoor for example, also attract large numbers of visitors and a worldwide TV audience get to see Devon as a beautiful backdrop for this major event. Wherever the race passes through the county, all of the communities enjoy the spectacle and make the most of the occasion and I’m sure it will be the same this year.”
Spectators in Devon have been treated to a who’s who of cycling over the years, with Tour de France Yellow Jersey winner Bradley Wiggins, former World Champion Thor Hushovd, current road race world champion Mark Cavendish and Team GB’s Olympic Gold Medallists Ed Clancy and Geraint Thomas.
Team Sky’s Tour de France stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen won the stage which finished in Bideford in 2009, on his way to winning The Tour of Britain overall that year. Huge crowds turned out in Barnstaple that year to see the Stage as it neared its dramatic sprint finish.
Last year, Mark Cavendish, riding for HTC-Highroad before his move to Team Sky, led out his Australian teammate Mark Renshaw to victory in Exmouth. And Devon rider Jon Tiernan-Locke won all three Skoda King of the Mountain climbs on Dartmoor last year as he claimed the Skoda King of the Mountains jersey and fifth overall in The Tour.
Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said: “Devon has given us some unforgettable Tour of Britain moments in front of massive crowds. Victories by Edvald Boasson Hagen in Bideford, an exciting finale in Teignmouth and then the thrill of seeing a Devonian rider putting in an attacking ride on Dartmoor last year all live long in the memory. We look forward to helping make more of these great memories this year for the penultimate stage.”
The Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain 2012 will take place in Ipswich on Sunday 9 September, with the final stage in Guildford on Sunday 16 September.