Dartmoor will be Tour of Britain bike race high point
DEVON will officially be the “high point” of this year’s Tour of Britain cycle race.
The summit of the Skoda King of the Mountains climb at Merrivale within Dartmoor National Park is 454 metres – the highest of any climb on this year’s eight day race.
Together with another category one climb at Coffin Stone near Dartmeet just moments later, Dartmoor National Park is set to provide another severe challenge for the professional cyclists during the Devon Stage of The Tour on Saturday 15 September.
Devon County Council is hosting Stage Seven of this year’s Tour.
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Starting in Barnstaple and finishing in Dartmouth, the Devon Stage will cover 106 miles of the county. It will be a third successive year that will feature Dartmoor National Park and it is expected to attract some of the biggest crowds of this year’s race, particularly as it is the penultimate stage of The Tour.
Thousands of spectators descended on Haytor, Coffin Stone, and Huccaby Tor last year to witness South Devon rider Jon Tiernan-Locke win all three Skoda King of the Mountains climbs.
The riders, including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Road Race World Champion Mark Cavendish, will spend almost two hours of the race in Dartmoor National Park as the route takes in communities on the edge of the moor as well as some of those in the heart of the National Park, including Okehampton, Lydford, Tavistock, Princetown, Poundsgate and Ashburton.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of The Tour of Britain, said: “Dartmoor National Park offers everything that’s needed in The Tour; stunning scenery and tough racing. It has become an integral part of the Devon Stage over the past couple of years and it has provided some of the most exciting Skoda King of the Mountains climbs. With Merrivale being this year’s highest category one climb, we’re expecting big things again.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “We saw tremendous support on Dartmoor last year and we’re expecting the crowds to be even bigger on Saturday 15 September. Following such a successful Olympic Games and Tour de France, I’m sure thousands of people will want to turn out to see Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish and cheer them on. The Tour of Britain is another great sporting occasion and we’re proud that Devon is part of that. Spectators will be able to get up close to the action and Dartmoor could see some of the most thrilling racing of the entire Tour.”
Bill Hitchins, Chairman, Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “The Tour of Britain competitors will pass through some of the best scenery that Devon has to offer and it is certain that the King of the Mountains climbs at Merrivale and Coffin Stone on Dartmoor will attract many spectators."
The day starts with Dartmoor National Park Authority’s popular Freewheeler bike bus service from Ashburton (08:30), Yelverton (10:00) and Tavistock (11:00) taking bikes and their owners up to Princetown. Those who book a trip on this service will arrive in time to enjoy a great day and then have a mainly downhill cycle back home.
People are encouraged to arrive in plenty of time and park responsibly. Those arriving early to get the best vantage points will be able to enjoy watching the Active Dartmoor King of the Mountains team ride that takes place on the Merrivale to Princetown section of the Tour from 09:30.
Come along and watch local cycle clubs and corporate teams compete over the same climb as the professionals.
The Devon Stage will also race through Bideford, Hatherleigh, Instow, Great Torrington, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge, Torcross and Stoke Fleming.
Among the teams taking part are Sky Professional Cycling Team, Garmin-Barracuda, Liquigas-Cannondale, Orica GreenEDGE and Euskaltel Euskadi.
The Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain 2012 will take place in Ipswich on Sunday, with the final stage in Guildford on Sunday 16 September.
Daily highlights of The Tour of Britain will be screened every evening on ITV4.
For more information on The Tour of Britain, visit: www.southwesttourofbritain.co.uk and www.tourofbritain.co.uk and on Twitter follow @SWTourofBritain.