Suffolk: New record for Tour of Britain stage as race hands county’s economy an estimated �1million boost

SUFFOLK’S economy is estimated to have enjoyed a �1million boost from the Tour of Britain as the region smashed turnout records for the race.

More than 150,000 people lined Suffolk’s streets yesterday to watch cycling stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish battle it out in Britain’s biggest cycling race.

County sports chiefs say they estimate the tour – which went from Ipswich to Norfolk Showground via the likes of Melton, Aldeburgh and Leiston – boosted the economy by �1million this weekend, adding to the �1.4m generated over the last two years.

And in further good news Tour of Britain officials said last night the turnout was the biggest for a race stage since it re-launched in 2004.

Councillor Colin Noble, cabinet member for sport at Suffolk County Council, said: “Our early estimates suggest that the tour has boosted Suffolk’s economy by �1m this weekend, adding to the �1.4m the event has pumped into the county in the last two years.

“The Bradley Wiggins effect, hosting the Grand Depart and the general UK-wide buzz surrounding cycling are all playing a part.

“The number of visitors and local people turning out to watch the tour in Suffolk has risen steadily year on year – and this weekend we believe it broke the 100,000 barrier. That all adds to the economic impact the tour has on our county.

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“We know that following last year’s Tour of Britain, there was a real increase in the number of people interested in getting on their bikes and enjoying Suffolk’s beauty from the saddle.

“Projects like Cycle Suffolk are there to help people of all abilities to get more out of benefits of cycling.

“I’d urge anyone who has been inspired by our Velodrome and Tour of Britain heroes to take a look at the project and see what it could do for them.”

A spokesman for the Tour of Britain said the day had gone “fantastically well”.

He added: “The race was exciting, thrilling and I am sure there’s a lot of children that have gone home tonight and said to their mums and dads ‘can I have a bike?’. That’s got to be a good thing. The turnout for the East Anglia stage last year was in the region of 150,000. There was a massive crowd today so I think we can say we’re comfortably past that.

“One of the riders said he’d never seen crowds like it for a Tour of Britain stage anywhere else in Britain.

“The people of Suffolk and Norfolk have done the race proud.”

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold Chamber of Commerce, said: “The feeling is there was lots of people in Southwold and lots of people in the town.

“It’s great news for the area, it’s good that it is on television too.

“I’d hope people will realise Suffolk and East Anglia is beautiful and consider coming here and maybe having a cycling holiday.”