Ipswich: Town gears up for arrival of Olympic hero Bradley Wiggins and the start of the Tour of Britain
EXCITEMENT is building ahead of the Tour of Britain with likes of cycling heroes Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins set to line up as the race starts in Ipswich.
The race is set to draw thousands of people when it gets underway on the Waterfront on September 9 before heading along the Suffolk coast and finishing in Norfolk.
Wiggins’ twin triumph in the Tour de France and London 2012 will see “Wiggomania” erupt across the town with the crowds eager to catch a glimpse of one of their Olympic heroes.
Last year, around 150,000 people watched the Tour pass through Ipswich and Suffolk, and hosting the event is a huge honour for Ipswich according to Mayor Mary Blake, who will be starting the race.
She said: “The weekend will put the national sporting focus firmly on Ipswich.
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“Not only do we have the prestigious Tour of Britain starting here, we also have the return of the SkyRide local cycling event to the town and it will be good to see people of all ages and abilities take part once they have witnessed the world’s best in action.”
It is hoped hundreds of people will line the route and Christchurch Park to cheer the riders on.
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She added: “We are hoping to capitalise on the success of our athletes and cyclists at the Games and the cycling mega-day follows a fantastic summer of culture and sport in Ipswich with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Ipswich Arts Festival, the Olympic Torch Relay’s overnight stop and top concerts in Chantry and Christchurch Parks.
“I hope the Waterfront will be packed to see Bradley and the very best cyclists from around the world set off on the start of the Tour.”
A special cycling roadshow will be held from 11am to 7pm on the Waterfront outside University Campus Suffolk on September 9 including free bike checks and repairs, safety advice and Tour of Britain giveaways.
Meanwhile in Kesgrave, Debbie McCallum, landlady of The Bell Inn, has organised a charity fun day to celebrate the Tour of Britain.
She said: “We are having a Tour of Britain cycling challenge where customers will be out the front on exercise bikes pedalling for 23 miles in aid of The Poppy Appeal and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) charity.
“We’ll also have live music and a barbecue as we want to make a real show of it.”
Wiggins heads a galaxy of stars
One name is dominating British cycling right now – Bradley Wiggins.
The 32-year-old became the first Briton to win the Tour de France earlier this year before winning gold in the time trial at the Olympics.
He and his team-mates will be looking to continue Team Sky’s dominance of the sport.
He will be joined by fellow Brits Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome – both also household names.
Making their debut in this year’s tour is Team UK Youth, a new team owned by 1992 Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell. All bar two of the team are set to make their debuts, with just Magnus Backstedt and Yanto Barker having experienced the Tour of Britain before.
One of the world’s top teams, the newly re-titled Garmin-Sharp have become a regular fixture at The Tour of Britain, winning stages on two of their visits to UK shores, most recently at Caerphilly in 2011 with then reigning world champion Thor Hushovd.
Rapha Condor head into this year’s tour with more of a focus on youth, with many of the team’s established stars having moved on to pastures new. Leading the way as ever will be Kristian House, who has worn the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour of Britain, and he could be joined by double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy and his London 2012 teammate Andy Tennant.