Tour of Britain: what there is to see and do

The Tour of Britain returns to Devon

The Tour of Britain returns to Devon - Credit: Archant

Cycling’s Tour of Britain returns to Devon in September and there will be plenty to see and do, as David Beasley reveals

A WEEK-LONG ‘carnival of cycling’ in Sidmouth and Dartmoor will set the stage for the Tour of Britain’s (ToB) return to Devon on 9 September.

After a year’s hiatus Britain’s largest free-to-view sporting event is back with a bang, and a record line-up of ten WorldTour teams including Team Wiggins.

Riders will battle it out through 95 miles of Devon countryside, taking in Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Willand, Tiverton, Crediton, Moretonhampstead, Chudleigh and Bovey Tracey on the way. The stage includes 3,000 metres of climbing and fast descents on Devon’s narrow roads, including the race’s only summit finish this year, a leg-burning six kilometre ascent of Haytor. The stage is being hosted by Devon County Council and partners East Devon District Council, Sidmouth Town Council, Teignbridge District Council and Dartmoor National Park. And they have worked with local groups to produce an array of cycling-themed events to wet the appetites of cycling enthusiasts and peak the interest of casual visitors.

Vintage bike rides are planned including along the Stover Trail to Bovey Tracey’s Nourish Festival on 3 September. And the following day Alistair and Seb Cope from Velo Vintage will lead a procession of vintage bikes on their penny farthings around Sidmouth.

“The sight of seeing riders resplendent in period attire and riding vintage bikes really adds to any occasion,” says Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for cycling. “And there can be none bigger than the Tour of Britain.”

The Sid Valley Cycling Club and CTC Torbay are just two of many groups holding rides during the week, and for those inspired by the Olympics, time trials are on 1 September at Abbrook. In Sidmouth the prize for the Chamber of Commerce’s shop window competition is a signed Tour of Britain shirt and Dukes bar will once again be one of the focal points for evening live entertainment.

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On 8 September, Sidmouth town centre will close to traffic for a a day and be given over to cycling, paving the way for the Sid Valley Cycling Club’s Criterion Race Day. Races for men, women, and children take place through the afternoon and through to dusk. “Visitors will experience Sidmouth at its best, with hopefully good weather and without traffic,” enthuses town council chairman Jeff Turner. “We are all looking forward to this great week to celebrate the return of the Tour, for which we have had the privilege to host the start twice in four years.”

The roads around the centre will be closed from late morning and a carnival atmosphere will be created with street performers and entertainment leading up to the commencement of the races.

Stuart adds: “There is already a vast amount of interest in the races with competitors from around the country already signed up via the British Cycling website.”

On race day both Haytor and Sidmouth will be buzzing. In Haytor crowds can watch the excitement unfold on the big screens in the Tour of Britain Promotional zone in the Middle Car Park, and enjoy the very best local food and drink and a range of stalls and entertainment. Visitors can pit themselves against the top cyclists by using one of the static bikes on offer. Spectators will also have the chance to visit the team coaches and cheer on the champions of tomorrow as schools compete along the final one kilometre in advance of the Tour. Teignbridge District Council’s leader, councillor Jeremy Christophers explains: “This is a flagship event on the Teignbridge calendar and there will be a special welcome to embrace the cycling community. It’s sure to be a dramatic stage finish on top of Haytor and evokes fantastic memories of 2013 when crowds gathered in their thousands to cheer on cycling’s biggest names that included Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.”

In Sidmouth world-rated mountain biker Andrei Burton and his team will be demonstrating their skills at the York Steps. After the race an inter-primary school bike race in the lower section of the Byes takes place. And Mid Devon Cycling Club are organising a bus on 18 September to take riders to Sidmouth, and then leading rides to the finish with tea and cake at Ullacombe Farm Shop at Haytor.

Stuart comments: “This year’s programme of events will make Sidmouth the true destination for cyclists and those who may well be inspired to get the cycling bug!”

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At a glance

The Tour of Britain begins in Glasgow on Sunday 4 September and finishes in London on Sunday 11 September

Alistair and Seb Cope from Velo Vintage will lead a procession of vintage bikes on their penny farthings around Sidmouth on 4 September.

Sid Valley Cycling Club’s Criterion Race Day takes places on 8 September at Sidmouth’s town centre.

Street performers and entertainment will create a carnival atmosphere leading up to the commencement of the races.

A record line-up of ten UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) WorldTeams will compete.

The sixth stage of the Tour of Britain will arrive in Devon on 9 September beginning in Sidmouth and includes over 3,000 metres of climbing.

Haytor in Dartmoor is the Tour of Britain’s only summit finish this year and is just over a three and a half mile ascent.

The cycle from Sidmouth to Dartmoor’s Haytor is a distance of 93 miles (150kilometres).

In 2013, the Tour attracted a massive 250,000 spectators from Sidmouth to Dartmoor.

The Tour boosted Devon’s local economy by almost £12million in 2013 and 2014.