Cycle race comes to Suffolk

OLYMPIC hopefuls and professional cyclists were joined by a team of councillors and journalists to experience the Suffolk leg of the Tour of Britain, which will be speeding through the county next month.

Setting off in the drizzle from the Bull Hotel in Long Melford and escorted by police motorcycle outriders experts joined rookies on a 20-mile section of stage seven, which will be fought out from Bury St Edmunds to Colchester.

The UKs premier bike race will be coming to Suffolk for the first time after the 100 riders – including Britain’s Bradley Wiggins and defending rider Edvald Boasson Hagen – set off from Rochdale a week earlier.

Simon Richardson, a top professional rider with the British Sigma Sport-Specialized team, who led the peloton out of Melford, said it was his first experience of riding in Suffolk.

He said: “This will be one of the most exciting legs on the tour which could decide the ultimate winner of the race. Clearly it is not the hilliest section but the exposed roads will require a different kind of racing challenge for the riders, especially if there are strong winds on the day, which is quite likely in this part of the country. I won’t see much of the surroundings on the day but I’m really impressed with the route and cycling through places like Lavenham is delightful.”

After leaving Bury St Edmunds on Friday, September 17, the penultimate leg of the race will give spectators some of the best opportunities to see the riders as they loop across the Suffolk/Essex border. The route includes a sprint section through Long Melford and the King of the Mountains climb at Ballingdon Hill. The stage ends in Colchester and the final day is in London.

Peter Hodges, from the Tour of Britain, said: “Suffolk and Essex have embraced the tour more than any other region of the country so far and the excitement and momentum here is really building.

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“No-where else have we received this much interest and I would like to thank everyone, including the police, for their support today.”

Ian Arbon, manager of Streetlife bike shop in Sudbury, who lent the EADT a racing bike and equipment for this report, said: “This will be a great event for cycling in the whole county and I’m sure seeing the world’s best riders will inspire and encourage lots of people to get out on their bikes to embrace our great countryside.”

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