Excitement builds ahead of the penultimate stage of the Aviva Tour of Britain
- Credit: PA
Cycling fever takes over Suffolk today as two key events – a fundraising bike ride to help historic churches and British cycling’s premier road race – attracts hundreds of riders and spectators.
Olympic and former Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is among the world’s top cyclists taking on the penultimate stage – Stage Seven – of the Tour of Britain in Suffolk.
Riders will begin at Fakenham Racecourse in Norfolk at 10am, travel through west Suffolk towns including Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market before finishing in Princes Street in Ipswich at around 3.45pm.
However, cycling fans were dealt a blow yesterday after cycling legend Mark Cavendish withdrew from the Tour of Britain. The 2011 world road race champion was involved in a crash in the Stage Six race near Stoke-on-Trent and suffered an injury. But the sporting spectacle continues to gather momentum as it enters its final weekend, and takes place alongside the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) Bike Ride and Walk.
The annual fundraising event has raised £4.3million since its inception in 1982 to provide significant funds to Suffolk’s 500 medieval churches.
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The SCHT was founded in 1973 to help Suffolk’s historic churches and chapels with advice and provide grants towards the cost of essential repairs and maintenance, and now also offers small grants to preserve modern facilities and access.
Patrick Grieve, chairman of the SCHT, said: “The sponsored bike ride is a marvellous opportunity for all the family to be out on the roads and lanes of Suffolk discovering the delights of the countryside, getting good exercise and supporting our ancient churches and chapels with the money you raise.
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“The churches are your history; help to be their future.”
Paul Rippon, vice-chairman of the Ipswich Bicycle Club, said: “Both events are going to be brilliant for the town and the county.
“The Tour of Britain is going to increase tourism with people from across the country staying at hotels all along the route and hopefully they will return in the future once they realise how beautiful the county is.
“Cycling is on the up now and more and more want to join clubs in the region and hopefully these events will also encourage more youngsters to get on to their bikes and inspire the cyclists of the future.
“Thousands of people cycled round Ipswich for the SkyRide and I’m sure the Tour of Britain will help put us on the map even more.”
While the race is under way, rolling road blocks will be in place and local road users are being advised to expect short delays.
The following roads will be closed in Ipswich, with diversions in place, from 12.01am until 11.59pm on Saturday:
Civic Drive from Elm Street;
Franciscan Way from Wolsey Street;
Princes Street from Grafton Way;
And Princes Street from Friars Street.
Burrell Road will be closed from the NCP car park through to Station Bridge from 3-3.45pm. Diversions to access the train station will be in place but allow extra time to catch any trains.
Parking will be suspended on sections of the following roads from 5pm today until 5pm tomorrow:
Needham Market High Street (B1113);
Bildeston High Street (B1115);
Hadleigh – Gallows Hill, Bridge Street and High Street (B1070);
East Bergholt – The Street;
Holbrook – Ipswich Road;
Ipswich – Wherstead Road.