Suffolk: Excitement builds for Tour of Britain cycle race
A SUMMER of sport is set to hit another high note in Suffolk next month as the UK’s biggest professional cycling event is held in the county - cementing the Olympic sporting legacy.
The first stage of the Tour of Britain is expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators when it passes through towns and villages across east Suffolk on Sunday September 9.
It will be the country’s biggest post-Olympics and Paralympics sporting event, and while team line-ups are yet to be announced, some of the biggest names is cycling could be taking part. Last year, when the race also passed through Suffolk, Mark Cavendish was among the star riders.
It is also hoped the event will add to the soaring interest in cycling following the Tour de France success of Bradley Wiggins and stunning gold medal haul for Team GB in the Olympics velodrome.
The first stage starts in Ipswich, heads up the Suffolk coast, passing through Woodbridge, Aldeburgh, Southwold and Lowestoft before crossing the border into Norfolk.
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The region’s tourism champions hope the event will help profile local businesses while showing off our scenic coast and countryside.
Councillor Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for sport, believes the return of the Tour will add to the buzz created around British cycling by the Olympic Games and the Tour de France. He said: “As Ipswich will be hosting the Grand Depart this year, we expect to see huge crowds flock to the waterfront and give the competitors a fantastic send off as they then head out into Suffolk’s beautiful countryside and onto Norfolk.
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“As well as seeing a increase in people taking to their bikes themselves as a result of the Tour of Britain visiting the county, we anticipate to see a economic boost for the area as many spectators visit and stay in the county.”
Naomi Tarry, of Best of Suffolk, called the Tour’s arrival “brilliant news”.
“We are hoping to keep the excitement generated from the Olympics running and recreate the excellent atmosphere that we had when the Olympic torch passed through Aldeburgh in July,” she said. “It will hopefully be a great tourism boost to the area once the summer holidays have ended, as we expect people will travel here from all over the country.”
The Tour could not come at a better time for Suffolk, with “cycle fever” sweeping the nation.
Mrs Tarry added: “The popularity of cycling has probably never been as high as it is now.”
Cycling’s popularity is in no small part down to the recent successes of Tour de france winner Bradley Wiggins and team-mate Mark Cavendish, considered the world’s best sprinter.
Their success is helping to turn more people onto the sport and both riders could be participating in the Tour of Britain as part of Team Sky.
Meanwhile, fellow British teams Endura Racing, Team IG–Sigma Sport, Rapha Condor, Team Raleigh–GAC, Node4–Giordana Racing, and Team UK Youth have confirmed they will be taking part.
Last year more that 150,000 people lined the streets to watch the East Anglia stage. And due to the incredible recent success of British cyclists, crowds are expected to gather in their droves.
The first leg will see many towns and villages in Suffolk celebrating the Tour in their own special way.
Woodbridge town centre manager, Neil Boast, promised to be donning his “Wiggins inspired side burns” and join the rest of the town celebrating an “incredible event”. Mr Boast was particularly pleased that the route features hills and a few sharp corners in Woodbridge, giving the public a chance to get a good look at the Tour as it passes through.
As well as the tour itself, a team from the fundraising Bobby on a Bike ride will be passing through Woodbridge, ahead of the official Tour cyclists. The group of police officer have raised �90,000 for charity since their first sponsored ride in 2000.
A sponsored ride will also be taking place in Woodbridge on the same day as the Tour after the official cyclists have passed through. Mr Boast explained: “This is a real family event - we hope as many people as possible will get involved. Sponsorship forms are now available at Shire Hall.”
There will also be a road show taking place on September 9 at Kingston Fields in Woodbridge, courtesy of Woodbridge Rotary Club and Cycle Suffolk.
Local shops and restaurants are also getting prepared and hoping to cater for large numbers of people that weekend.”
From Woodbridge, the tour snakes through the Suffolk countryside to Aldeburgh, and then on to Leiston, where Business Association chairman and avid cyclist Cripin Clay is looking forward to a day of celebration. He said: “We’re thrilled that the route is coming through Leiston. This is a fantastic opportunity to confirm the town’s place on the map.
“We have around 80 flagpoles up for the Olympics and we’ll definitely by flying the Union flag when the Tour come through.”
Southwold brewer Adnams will again be the main sponsor of the Tour of Britain stage as it makes it way through the region.
To celebrate, the company has produced its own “King of the Suffolk Mountains” cycle jerseys, complete with a bottle of Adnams Southwold Bitter poking up from rear pocket.
The nationwide race is expected to bring a �2m boost to the local economy as well as being televised in more than 100 countries. Tour of Britain spokesman Peter Hodges said: “It’s a golden opportunity for cycling in Britain”
“Having seen the Tour de France and the Olympics on television and it will give people in East Anglia the chance to see professional cycling first hand.”
For more information on each stage of the tour visit www.tourofbritain.com.