Sidmouth gears up for stage start of Tour of Britain
PUBLISHED: 16:30 07 July 2016
Teachers hope the Tour of Britain will do wonders for getting Sidmouth’s youngsters on their bikes.
Stage six of the tour will leave Sidmouth on Friday, September 9. Competitors will race from the seafront, via Ottery St Mary and Honiton, to the summit of Haytor on Dartmoor.
The 95-mile route is almost a repeat of the thrilling 2013 stage, which attracted a record-breaking 250,000 spectators county-wide and helped boost the local economy by £5.9million.
Sidmouth Primary School pupils rode The Esplanade with 19-year-old aspiring professional cyclist Alex Sheehan for the tour’s official launch on Monday.
Their headteacher, Paul Walker, said: “It was clear from the 2012 Olympics how big sporting events can motivate children not just to participate in sport, but also to produce quality and interesting work in the classroom.
“I am sure that having some of the world’s top cyclists and the Tour of Britain back in Sidmouth will encourage even more children to take an interest in cycling and inspire them both within and outside the classroom.”
As well as racing to the finishing line, riders will also battle to be named ‘king of the mountains’, an award for the best cyclist on three out of four climbs. One of these will be Ottery’s Chineway Hill, a 1.8-mile incline not used in the tour before.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s (DCC) highways chief, said: “We’re proud that once again Devon will be a key feature of the race, starting in beautiful Sidmouth, and providing the tour’s only summit finish.
“This isn’t just great worldwide exposure for our county, but in times of worrying growth in levels of physical inactivity among all sections of the population, this is also an opportunity to inspire youngsters to take up sport and activity.
“DCC will be contacting all the schools on the route over the coming weeks to ensure that as many of them as possible are lining the routes, cheering on the athletes.”
Sidmouth Town Council chairman Jeff Turner added: “Millions of people watching the race will see exactly what makes Sidmouth such a special part of the Jurassic Coast.
“A lot of hard work is going into making this stage a success and I hope the whole town makes the most of not only the race, but also all of the community events which are being planned to celebrate the tour coming to Sidmouth.”
Those events include closed circuit races for men, women and youths, live music and an inter-primary school bike race through The Byes.
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