Pro cycle teams try out Devon Tour of Britain route
PRO cyclists today had a taste of what will lay ahead in this year’s Devon Stage of The Tour of Britain.
Riders from Team UK Youth have been checking out the start and finish venues of Barnstaple and Dartmouth to see what might be in store for them when Britain’s premier cycle race comes to the county on Saturday September 15.
They were joined at special launch events in the two towns by local councillors and Performance Cycles CMI (South West Bike Academy).
Devon County Council will host Stage Seven of this year’s Tour and as the penultimate stage, Tour organisers believe it could prove decisive in the eight day race in which 96 of the world’s top cyclists will compete for the IG Markets Gold Jersey.
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This year’s Devon stage will start in Barnstaple and will head through Dartmoor National Park as it takes in around 106 undulating miles of the county before finishing in Dartmouth.
As the only South West Stage of this year’s Tour, Devon will effectively be the home stage for Team UK Youth riders Yanto Barker, from Totnes, and Chris Opie, from Cornwall.
Although the team is aiming to make its Tour debut, Yanto has a proven track record in the race. His best finish in The Tour was eighth in 2005, making him the top Brit that year.
Yanto said: “To return to the Tour of Britain again would be an exciting prospect for me as I have great memories of the race from 2005.
"It would be absolutely amazing to race on my home roads here in Devon and around Dartmoor, in front of friends and family in the UK's biggest race. The roads here are very hard so it will be tough but I'm confident we can show our quality as a team with UK Youth.”
The route through Devon will again include Dartmoor National Park, where a series of events will be held at Princetown. It will also pass through other communities including Bideford, Hatherleigh, Instow, Great Torrington, Okehampton, Princetown, Tavistock, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge, Torcross and Stoke Fleming.
The riders will face three Skoda King of the Mountains climbs at South Hill near Little Torrington, as well as Merrivale and Coffin Stone within Dartmoor National Park.
Merrivale was used in 2010 as the first climb of the day out of Tavistock, and features in Simon Warren’s ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’. The Coffin Stone climb was used from the other side in last year's Devon Stage, when Devon rider Jonathan Tiernan Locke took maximum Skoda King of the Mountain points on the day on his way to winning the polka dot jersey overall. There will also be intermediate Yodel Sprints at Great Torrington, Slapton Ley and Kingsbridge.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Last year was the first time that we had hosted a complete stage in the county and it was a great success – and as we’re the penultimate stage this year we could see the race won or lost in Devon.
“The race will cover almost the entire length of the county, from north to south, which is great news for our local communities and our local economy. Following hot on the heels of the Olympic Games, I’m sure there will be even more excitement about this year’s Tour, and it should attract huge numbers of spectators who will have a chance to see why we’re a premier destination for cycling tourism.”
The Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain 2012 will take place in Ipswich on Sunday 9 September, with the final stage in Guildford on Sunday 16 September. Among the 16 world class teams taking part are Sky Professional Cycling Team, Garmin-Barracuda and Vaconsoleil. It will also be a debut Tour of Britain for Liquigas-Cannondale and Orica GreenEDGE.
According to an independent report, commissioned by The Tour, an additional £3.1 million was spent in the county on the day of last year’s Devon Stage, with more than 125,000 spectators lining the route from Exeter to Exmouth, via Dartmoor. Over the past three years, The Tour of Britain has brought an additional £14 million into the local economy as well as showcasing the county to a global TV audience.