THE UK’s biggest professional cycling race, the Tour of Britain, returns to Devon in September.
The Devon stage of The Tour 2014 will start in Exmouth on Thursday, September 11 and will take the long way round to finish in Exeter.
In 2012 The Tour came to Barnstaple, when the penultimate stage saw cyclists, including Olympian Mark Cavendish, travel from the town to Dartmouth.
This will be the eighth consecutive year The Tour has visited Devon, where more than a million people have watched the race along the various Stage routes around the county with an estimated £27 million benefit to the local economy.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management, said: “Last year’s Devon Stage was a fantastic occasion and a perfect way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Tour.
“Record breaking crowds turned out, which was a welcome boost for the local economy and this year promises to provide another great showcase for our beautiful county as a premier destination for cycling tourism.”
The Devon stage will be stage five of The Tour 2014 and will cover around 106 miles (171 km) of the county. It will take in a number of communities en route, including Budleigh Salterton, Woodbury, Topsham, Exminster, Starcross, Chudleigh, Bovey Tracey, Haytor, Widecombe in the Moor, Princetown, Tavistock, Okehampton, Copplestone, and Crediton.
The start and finish venues are a reversal of the 2011 Devon stage, when Britain’s Cavendish led out his teammate Mark Renshaw for a memorable victory on Exmouth seafront.
Following the success of last year’s Devon stage from Sidmouth to Dartmoor, which attracted a record 250,000 spectators and generated almost £5.9 million of additional spending in the county, it is hoped the local economy will enjoy a similar boost this year.
Race Director Mick Bennett said: “The Devon stage of The Tour is highly popular with riders and spectators for the challenge it presents, and this year will be no different with a challenging loop across Dartmoor, including the climb of Haytor.
“The Exeter to Exmouth stage in 2011 was one of our best ever days, with fantastic support from the Devon crowds, therefore running in the opposite direction and coming after the success of last year’s Haytor finish, I think we can once again predict bumper crowds and exciting racing.”
This year’s Tour of Britain will have the race’s biggest ever line-up of top tier UCI Pro Teams in the 18-team field, led by the likes of Team Sky, who won last year’s Tour with Sir Bradley Wiggins.
At the national launch of the 2014 Tour in Canary Wharf it was revealed that the race would start in Liverpool on Sunday, September 7 and finish in London with an individual time trial and a circuit race on Sunday, September 14.
Hughes added: “It will be a chance for Devon to celebrate the completion of the Exe Estuary Trail, which is due to be completed later this year, and the route also takes in other important cycling centres.
“It covers Dartmoor, which is benefiting from the Granite and Gears project; Tavistock, which is home to Drake’s Trail; and Okehampton, which has the Granite Way. Spectators will be able to watch the race and make a day of it by enjoying a ride on any of these trails.”
For more information go to www.southwesttourofbritain.co.uk and www.tourofbritain.co.uk or follow @SWTourofBritain on Twitter.