Sidmouth hosted start of Devon stage

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RECORD numbers of people turned out to watch this year’s Devon Stage of The Tour of Britain.

An independent report has revealed that the event –staged by the county council September 20 - attracted 250,000 spectators.

Sidmouth was packed as it hosted the start of the stage.

The report highlights that the 10th anniversary of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race generated almost £5.9 million of additional spending in the county.

Crowds lined the 85 mile route which raced from Sidmouth through Sidbury, Honiton, Willand, Tiverton, Exeter, Chudleigh, Moretonhampstead and Bovey Tracey on its way to Dartmoor.

The event attracted more than 188,000 day-only visitors in Devon, with around a further 62,000 people staying overnight in the county to be part of the UK’s largest free-to-watch sporting event.

A TV audience of more than 2.8 million people in the UK tuned into the coverage of the Devon Stage on ITV4 and Eurosport.

The race was also broadcast to 166 countries worldwide, with South America, the Middle East and North Africa all receiving coverage for the first time.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, who was racing in the IG Gold Jersey on his way to winning The Tour overall, proved a massive draw for the crowds, alongside some of cycling’s biggest names including Mark Cavendish and Nairo Quintana.

A survey of more than 2,400 spectators also found that 100 per cent said the event was either a very enjoyable or quite an enjoyable experience, and 74 per cent said they were inspired to cycle more regularly.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways, said: “These are hugely impressive figures for Devon and The Tour of Britain has again shown its worth to our local economy.”

Cllr Hughes told town council colleagues in September that organisers were ‘bowled over’ by the welcome Sidmouth gave riders.

Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s cabinet member for environment, singled out the town and said he hoped the tour would return. He added: “It is a brilliant sporting event and we welcome the great benefit it brings both to the local economy and to raising the profile of cycling, as well as promoting Sidmouth and East Devon to an international audience.”

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