Tour of Britain to return with two south west legs

DEVON County Council and Somerset County Council have today confirmed that two stages of the Tour of Britain will be hosted in the South West for the first time in the history of the race.

DEVON County Council and Somerset County Council have today confirmed that two stages of the Tour of Britain will be hosted in the South West for the first time in the history of the race.

Devon County Council and Somerset County Council have announced that they will again work in partnership on Britain's premier cycle race, and the two counties are aiming to make it an even bigger and better spectacle than ever by jointly hosting two stages on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 September.

The Tour of Britain 2009 will take place over eight days, running from Saturday 12 September to Saturday 19 September. Although the precise Tour route in Devon is still being finalised, it can be revealed that the race will pass through Axminster and Seaton on 18 September. The full route for the South West stages will be announced at Axminster Guildhall on Tuesday 12 May.

This year is also the first of a four year agreement which will see Devon host a stage of the Tour up until 2012. Olympic athletes such as Bradley Wiggins were among those who competed in last year's event, and an estimated 107,000 spectators watched the stage in Devon and Somerset - a 45% bigger turnout than in 2007.

Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "There is enormous prestige attached to the Tour, and it will help Devon further its ambitions to be a premier destination for cycling and cycle tourism as well as bolstering our efforts to be the greenest county. Last year's Tour stage that passed through Devon attracted impressive crowds and I'm sure that can be built upon this year to promote tourism, greatly helping our local economy and local communities in these hard times. I'm particularly pleased that the Tour in Devon will take in Seaton and Axminster, two towns which form part of the Stop Line Way. Devon and Somerset County Councils are among the partnership working with Sustrans to complete the Stop Line Way by 2012 to provide a cycling link from Seaton to Burnham-on-Sea."

Graham Bagley, Somerset County Council's Tour of Britain Project Manager, said: "The 2008 South West Stage was a great success and we are confident that the 2009 stage will be even better. It is a privilege for Somerset and Devon to host two days of this world famous event and it is a great opportunity to put the spotlight on the region."

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As part of the build up to the Tour, the two Councils are also providing joint sponsorship to the South West Bike Academy to promote cycling in a number of schools in Devon and Somerset.

The South West Bike Academy recently launched its Qoroz-Novatec race team for the 2009 season, and its new website All of the riders are from the south west and the team has an average age of just 19.

South West Bike Academy manager David Walters said: "With the support of such forward thinking authorities we will endeavour to promote cycling and its benefits to schoolchildren throughout Devon and Somerset to the best of our ability."

The Academy aims to assist in the performance and development of the region's best young racing cyclists, with the aim of progressing onto professional and Olympic standards.

The team currently has six riders - Ed Griffin, Ben Stockdale, Jake Eddy, Josh Yetman and Luke Dunbar. They are joined by Greta Junker, who will also receive the same support in her quest to get to the top of the sport. Greta is an ex-multiple national youth and junior champion and her programme will be a mix of track, road and circuits racing.

So far this season the team members have notched up eight top ten finishes in top class competition around the country, including an impressive victory for Ben Stockdale at the Martyrs Road Race in Dorset.

The Academy has developed a relationship with PLOWMAN CRAVEN over the past 2 years, and will continue to act as a development team for the PLOWMAN CRAVEN-MADISON pro team.