Tour of Britain to sprint through Wattisham Flying Station

Apache helicopters, here performing manoeuvres with a pyrotechnic display at Wattisham's Family Day,

Apache helicopters, here performing manoeuvres with a pyrotechnic display at Wattisham's Family Day, will mark the end of the Tour of Britain sprint stage. - Credit: Su Anderson

Wattisham Flying Station will give the Aviva Tour of Britain a spectacular welcome next month as Stage Seven of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race sprints down the base’s 2,400-metre runway.

On September 12, Wattisham, the main operating base for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopter, will welcome up to 120 of the world’s top cyclists who will race onto the base mid-stage from Fakenham to Ipswich.

The runway will host an intermediate YodelDirect Sprint, sponsored by delivery company Yodel, which will see riders battling for points towards the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey, as well as time bonuses to the first three riders.

A pair of Apaches will mark the finish line for the sprint.

Commander of the flying station, Colonel Jason Etherington, said: “The Tour of Britain will be a great sporting occasion for Suffolk and a sprint along Wattisham’s runway will provide a unique challenge for the race while reflecting the county’s strong military presence. Sport, in all its form, is a central part of Army life. As well as fitness, it teaches soldiers about teamwork, working under pressure and the ability to win with both pride and humility. There are many keen cyclists at Wattisham, and we look forward to watching the professionals in action.”

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The stage begins from Fakenham Racecourse in Norfolk at 10am, passing through the county before crossing into Suffolk at Thetford.

The stage is due to reach Wattisham just after 2pm, and earlier in the stage riders will tackle a SKODA King of the Mountains climb near to Hevingham in Norfolk before two further climbs at Barking Tye and Brantham Hill.

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Two further sprints will take place in Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds and in Needham Market.

The stage is due to finish on Princes Street shortly after 3pm.

As an operational military airfield, the public will not be allowed in to the base but it will be broadcast live on ITV4 and British Eurosport as it passes through.

Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said he believed it was the first time the tour had raced through a military base, saying it would be a “fantastic spectacle” for the personnel and families at the base. He added: “With a wealth of Olympic and world class riders taking part in the race, I would actively encourage Suffolk’s residents to come out and give them a big welcome as they pass through our towns and villages along the route.”

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