Tour of Britain cycle race 'sold South Hams to the world'
SOUTH Hams Council's leader believes TV coverage of the weekend's Tour of Britain cycle race has sold the South Hams to the world.
Tens of thousands of cycle fans lined the streets of the South Hams in glorious sunshine to watch the exhilarating Devon stage on Saturday.
In Dartmouth alone, the streets were packed - in some places eight deep - to watch the riders cross the finishing line which overlooked the beautiful harbour.
More than 1,000 cars parked in the South Hams District Council-run Park and Ride with the overflow field being used at Venn Lane.
Race organisers were delighted with the Devon-wide turnout to the penultimate stage of the race which was eventually won on Sunday by Plymouth cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke – the first home-grown winner for 19 years.
South Hams District Council Leader Cllr John Tucker was thrilled that the South Hams was looking at its very best for a worldwide TV audience, showing the area as a premier destination.
He said: “It was a fantastic day – good for Devon and spectacular for the South Hams. The overhead TV cameras showing our beautiful coastline was great for the tourism industry and a real boost for businesses in the area. It really sold us to the world!”
Mick Bennett, Race Director of The Tour of Britain, said: “That was the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at a stage in the nine years we’ve been running The Tour of Britain and it’s equal to that of The Tour de France. To see crowds of such big proportions was unbelievable. They were Tour de France size crowds. For me it was fantastic, the best stage we’ve ever had.”
After the race, Cllr Rosemary Rowe, Chairman of South Hams District Council, presented the Rouleur Combativity Award to Samuel Sanchez, one of the most popular cyclists in the race. Sanchez was a gold medal winner in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Men's Road Race.