Tour of Britain in Sidbury: Excitement grows

THE excitement of The Tour of Britain comes to Devon and Somerset tomorrow, and the two stages in the South West could prove crucial in deciding the winner of this year s Yellow Jersey.

THE excitement of The Tour of Britain comes to Devon and Somerset tomorrow, and the two stages in the South West could prove crucial in deciding the winner of this year's Yellow Jersey.

Devon and Somerset County Councils are jointly hosting Stages Six and Seven, and as the cycle race reaches its critical phase, spectators can expect to see some of the best action of the entire event.

Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out across the country for the first five stages, which has seen three different riders so far having worn the Yellow Jersey. Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Columbia-HTC today (Wed 16 Sept) completed a hat-trick of Stage victories by the winning Stage 5 in Stoke-on-Trent. This latest win means he has taken the Yellow Jersey from Kai Reus of Rabobank as the race heads to the South West.

Although Britain's Bradley Wiggins has pulled out of the race to focus on next week's Time Trials World Championships, there are still plenty of top class riders competing. They include last year's Tour of Britain winner Geoffroy Lequatre, Tour de France stage winner Brice Feillu, Tour of Ireland winner Russell Downing, Britain's Olympic medallists Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy and Rob Hayles as well as Irish Road Race champion Nicolas Roche of AG2R.

If crowds match the 107,000 estimated to have lined the route last year, then the riders will be roared on as they cover 346km of roads across Devon and Somerset. Last year's Tour stage in the South West generated �1.859 million for local businesses in Devon and Somerset.

On this year's Tour, Stage Six takes in 187km from Frome to Bideford, and Stage Seven will cover 159km from Hatherleigh to Yeovil.

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Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "The sense of anticipation has been building for months, but there is real excitement now that the race is well and truly underway and is on our doorstep. Some of the events being put on by our local communities to support The Tour should make this a really colourful occasion that people will talk about for years and I can't wait to see it. Hopefully it might inspire people to take up cycling or to get back on their bikes."

Councillor William Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Strategic Planning, said: "The TV coverage has shown that there have been impressive crowds on the previous stages and I hope people in Devon turn out to show their support for this world class sporting event. I'm certain that the attraction of the race, and the recent spell of sunshine, will bring visitors and locals out to experience the spectacle of The Tour. If this helps extend the tourist season that can only be good for local businesses."

Councillor David Huxtable, Somerset County Council's Cabinet Member for Resources, said: "We are really looking forward to the Tour of Britain coming to Somerset on Thursday and Friday. Somerset County Council is hoping that the race will be bring a welcome boost to the economy. We expect that thousands of residents and tourists will come along to line the two South West stage routes to cheer on the professional cyclists."

Some of the most exciting racing will be found during the King of the Mountain and Sprint sections of the race. Stage Six has sprints at Bridgwater, Wiveliscombe and Barnstaple, as well as three King of the Mountains climbs at the Quantock Hills, Enmore and Dulverton. For spectators there is also entertainment all day from 11:30am at Bideford Quay, including a display by Devon County Council's Cycling Ambassador and World number six Mountain Bike Trials rider Andrei Burton, ahead of the finish at around 3pm.

The following day, the market town of Hatherleigh will host a procession and other events from around 9:35am, to create a carnival atmosphere before the riders set off from the market town at 10:15am for Stage Seven. There are sprints outside Queen Elizabeth's Community College at Crediton, Blundell's School in Tiverton and in Chard. Thrown in for good measure are three King of The Mountain climbs at Cadbury Hill, Trow Hill near Sidford, and at East Chinnock in Somerset.

For more information about the South West stages of the Tour of Britain visit: