ONE of the world’s most prestigious cycling races will pass just miles from Suffolk’s border, it’s been revealed.

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The 2014 Tour De France will feature a stage from Cambridge to London, which will snake south through Essex, east of the M11.

It will pass close to Great Abington - around 10 miles from Haverhill - before working its way past Saffron Walden, Takeley, Epping and onto the Olympic Park and central London.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “It’s fantastic news that the Tour de France will be coming to the east region in 2014 and will undoubtedly build upon the success and excitement that the Tour of Britain has created in Suffolk in recent years.

“Coming so close to the county it provides people with a fantastic opportunity to witness and enjoy the atmosphere of the world’s premier cycling event.

“Events like these continue to help raise the profile of cycling, not only as a sport, but for recreation and transport which can only help to achieve Suffolk’s ambition to become the most active county in England.”

The UK will get the three first stages of the 2014 race, starting on Saturday, July 5 in Leeds and travelling the 190km to Harrogate. The second day will see cyclists tackle the 200km between York and Sheffield, before the third stage, the 170km from Cambridge to London.

The announcement comes on the back of a successful summer of cycling in Suffolk, which included hosting the final stage of the Tour of Britain.

It prompted Suffolk County Council to express an interest to British Cycling about hosting one of the opening stages of the 2017 Tour de France.

Peter Heath, secretary of the West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club, said: “It’s the first time the Tour de France has been so close to Suffolk and it’s great for anyone who wants to see it live.

“Cycling is booming in the UK at the moment and this can only be a good thing.

“It’s difficult to say what impact it’s going to have. I think if we have British rider doing well again - like the Bradley Wiggins effect last year - then we’ll see some kind of affect on our membership.”

The race, which was last year won by Olympic star Sir Bradley Wiggins, last visited the UK in 2007 when London hosted the prologue (time trial) and opening stage.

“Since the resounding success of the Grand Depart in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom,” said Tour De France director Christian Prudhomme. “Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.

“Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves.”

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