Devon to stage Tour of Britian?

DEVON County Council s Executive will be asked next week (Tuesday 16 December) to consider a possible four year contract to host a stage of the Tour of Britain up to 2012.

DEVON County Council's Executive will be asked next week (Tuesday 16 December) to consider a possible four year contract to host a stage of the Tour of Britain up to 2012.

The County Council has worked closely with Somerset County Council to bring the Tour into the county over the past two years, and there is now an opportunity for Devon to host a stage of the prestigious sporting event which attracts world class and Olympic athletes, such as Bradley Wiggins.

Council Members have requested the Executive examine the feasibility of whether the Tour of Britain should be invited to visit Devon for a one day race stage over the next four consecutive years, starting in September 2009 and continuing until 2012, at a cost of up to £250,000 per year.

That investment could provide a significant return. Independent research has found that this year's Tour generated £1.859 million for Devon and Somerset, with 48 full time equivalent jobs supported in the two counties and over £1million created in Advertising Equivalent Value from TV and print media. More than 107,000 spectators are estimated to have watched the Devon and Somerset stage of this year's Tour of Britain - 45% up on 2007.

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The Tour organisers and teams have publicly stated that the South West stages have been the most successful of the event in terms of the race route, organisation and crowd support, with thousands turning out to see the race in Devon on Exmoor as well as in North Molton, South Molton and Tiverton. Somerset County Council will continue to host a stage for another three years, but the Tour is keen to add Devon as one of the stages on its eight day itinerary, but no race routes have been decided.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "The Tour of Britain is a prominent international event and it would be an attractive proposition if it was to visit Devon for four consecutive years. It would only enhance our growing reputation as a cycling county and provides us with a perfect platform with which to promote sustainable transport. Following the success of Britain in all aspects of competitive cycling, hosting a stage of the Tour of Britain in Devon would have knock-on implications for improving health, cutting congestion and boosting the local economy."

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The organisers of the Tour have also approached the County Council to ascertain whether it would be willing to stage a Criterion race in Exeter in the summer of 2009, as part of a separate event called the "Tour Series" planned to be held in ten UK city centres.

Other supporting events may include an 'Around Devon Ride' which could take the form of a series of legs between market and coastal towns involving all abilities and linking the existing National Cycle Network routes as a way of promoting leisure cycling in Devon.

The Executive is also being asked to sponsor the South West Bike Academy between 2009 - 2012. The aim of the Academy is to provide training and race opportunities for young talented riders from the south west to help them realise their ambitions of becoming professional cyclists and representing their country.

The Academy is currently working with Somerset County Council to engage with schools throughout their training year to help promote the sport, health, fitness and sustainable travel, and with funding it could offer the same in Devon schools.

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