Devon school children received a very special preview of the Tour of Britain on Monday (4 July), cycling the start and finish of the Devon stage with a British cycling pioneer and an aspiring professional.
On Friday September 9 2016, the world’s top cycling teams and riders will race from Sidmouth on the East Devon coastline to the summit of Haytor on Dartmoor in Stage Six of the race.
The Devon Stage is being hosted by Devon County Council (DCC), and partners Teignbridge District Council, East Devon District Council, Sidmouth Town Council and Dartmoor National Park.
The stage is almost a repeat of 2013 - that year almost 250,000 spectators lined the county’s roads to help boost the local economy by £5.9m.
But with only one in three children physically active every day, this year Devon County Council is using the Tour to inspire more children to take up sport.
That's why this year's Devon Stage launch focused on pupils from the local primary schools nearest to the start and finishing lines cycling part of the course.
Sidmouth Primary School children will be cycling the starting straight on the Esplanade joined by 19-year-old aspiring professional cyclist Alex Sheehan from the Bikeshed-Bianchi Women's Performance Cycling Team.
Bovey Tracey’s former Olympian, Tour De France rider and double UK road race champion Colin Lewis joined Bovey Tracey and Ilsington pupils cycling up Haytor, the only summit finish of this year’s race.
And with 66 days to go there is still a tremendous amount of preparation to be done to ensure that Devon once again puts on one of the most exciting stages for the thousands of spectators who will be watching from around the world.
British Cycling’s premier road cycling event will take in Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Willand, Tiverton, Crediton, Moretonhampstead, Haldon Forest and Chudleigh before climbing from Bovey Tracey to the only summit finish of The Tour.
The Devon stage is only 150km long (93miles) but the riders need to take care not to get complacent, as there is barely a mile of flat terrain.
The riders will be challenged almost from the start line as the race travels through the rolling hills of East and Mid Devon before making its way onto Dartmoor where those hoping for a chance at overall victory will have to make their attack.
School children experienced for themselves the enormous task ahead for many of the riders – the stage involves leg-burning climbs totalling 3,101metres.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways with a remit for cycling said: “We’re proud that once again Devon will be a key feature of the race, starting in beautiful Sidmouth and providing the Tour’s only summit finish.
“This isn’t just great worldwide exposure for our county, but in times of worrying growth in levels of physical inactivity among all sections of the population this is also an opportunity to inspire youngsters to take up sport and activity.
“Cycling is something that can be both a hobby but also a great way of incorporating physical activity into your journeys to work or school.
"That's why over the last year more than 7,400 children in Devon have taken part in Bikeability over the past year and another 3,500 are in the process of going through it.
“Devon will be contacting all the schools on the route over the coming weeks to ensure that as many of them as possible are lining the routes cheering on the athletes.”
Councillor George Gribble, Teignbridge District Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Recreation and Sport said: “I’m delighted that once again the Tour of Britain is going through Teignbridge.
“Watching some of the world’s top riders reach Haytor’s summit after a hard 153km (93mile) stage through Devon is going to be an amazing experience.
“I really hope Teignbridge residents – and people visiting the area during the Tour - appreciate what a fantastic day it will be and turn out in their droves to support all the riders as they make their way through Teignbridge and on to Dartmoor. It’s going to be quite a spectacle.”
Councillor Ian Chubb, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: “It is an honour for the Jurassic Coast town of Sidmouth to be hosting the start of Stage Six of the Tour of Britain.
“The new route, which encompasses a designated World Heritage Site, is both beautiful and challenging and our undulating hills combined with narrow country lanes will certainly test these fantastic professional cyclists.
“For onlookers, it will be a thrilling spectacle and one that I hope will inspire people of all ages to explore the countryside on two wheels instead of four.
“Cycling offers so many health benefits, plus it’s green and an affordable way to get fit. For a cycling holiday, you couldn’t ask for a better destination than East Devon and as a fun family activity I cannot recommend cycling enough.”
Sidmouth Town Council Chairman Jeff Turner said: “We are absolutely thrilled that once again the Devon Stage of The Tour of Britain will start on our seafront. Millions of people watching the race will see exactly what makes Sidmouth such a special part of the Jurassic Coast. A lot of hard work is going into making this Stage a success and I hope the whole town makes the most of not only the race but also all of the community events which are being planned to celebrate The Tour coming to Sidmouth.”
Mick Bennett, Race Director, Tour of Britain, said: "The return of the Tour of Britain to Devon after a year away has been much anticipated and the climb of Haytor will once again be a key moment in this year's race route, coming towards the end of a hard week's racing. The Devon stage is always known for its fantastic crowds, in particular on Haytor and Dartmoor, so we look forwards to seeing many more hundreds of thousands of fans lining the route come September, and in particular joining us for the summit finish.
"We have worked with our partners at Devon County Council to create a route that is challenging for the riders, picturesque for the worldwide television pictures and takes in a number of towns and communities to bring the Tour of Britain to as many fans as possible."
Paul Walker, headteacher at Sidmouth Primary School said: “We encourage cycling to school and offer Bikeability training to all of our Year 5 pupils.
“It was evident from the 2012 Olympics how big sporting events can motivate children not just to participate in sport, but also to produce quality and interesting work in the classroom.
“Now, for the second time in three years, Britain’s largest cycling event is coming to Sidmouth. I am sure that having some of the world’s top cyclists and the Tour of Britain back in Sidmouth will encourage even more children to take an interest in cycling and inspire them both within and outside the classroom."
Louise Prywata, headteacher at Bovey Tracey Primary School, said: “To have the stars of British cycling coming to Bovey Tracey is a massive inspiration for our pupils and by having our children take part in the launch we can start our countdown to The Tour of Britain here at Bovey Tracey Primary School.
“The children are excited and are looking forward to seeing the world's top riders in Bovey Tracey and it will motivate our pupils to get on their bikes, enjoy the wonderful countryside on our doorstep, and take part in a fantastic sport.
"Already this year 36 Year 6 children have been successful with their Bikeability this year and the Tour could inspire even more.
"They may well be the stars of The Tour of Britain in the future!"
Today’s event is 49 years to the week since Colin took part in the 1967 Tour De France, a seminal moment in British cycling history.
Colin Lewis said: “It's fantastic that the Tour is once again going through Devon and Bovey Tracey. Last time in 2013 there were more than 20,000 people viewing the Tour on Haytor and many of them were young.
"Here in town we have a new bikeshop and cafe where young people meet and I have no doubt that this facility combined with the race will inspire even more to take up the sport."
Dave Walters, Team Manager of the Bikeshed-Bianchi Womens’ Performance Cycling Team said: “Recent history proves that as nation we can compete on the world stage at events including the Olympics, Tour de France, the Tour of Britain and the women’s Tour of Britain.
“But it’s local events like this that enable young people to get up close and personal with professional sports people.”
Today’s launch is also being used to announce the locations of the sprints and King of the Mountain points on the Devon Stage.
These intra-race competitions are hotly contested and with jerseys and financial bonuses at stake.
On each of the stages riders can pick up points which accumulate towards different jerseys within the overall race.
The Devon stage therefore has three designated sprints and three designated King of the Mountains.
Tiverton – specific location to be determined
Crediton - High Street,
Chudleigh – Fore Street
Highly popular with fans, riders battle it out to be first across the sprint line to claim points, and also bonus seconds to be taken off their overall race time.
If the overall lead for the Tour of Britain is tight, expect the battle for the time bonuses to be intense, just as in 2007 when an intermediate sprint helped decide who won The Tour overall
King of the Mountains (KoM)
SKODA King of the Mountains
Chineway Hill - not used by Tour of Britain before, the 2.9-kilometre climb averages around 5%
Cadbury Hill - not used in this direction by the Tour of Britain before
Dunchideock - not used by the Tour of Britain before, the short, sharp, 1.5-kilometre climb averages 8%
Haytor - used as a summit finish in 2013, the first in the modern Tour of Britain, the race has crossed Haytor in both 2011 and 2014, with the 5.9-kilometre climb average 6% and ascending over 350-metres.
Awarded to the best climber in the Tour of Britain, riders battle for points at three or four designated SKODA King of the Mountains climbs on every road stage of The Tour.
Ranked in one of three categories according to their difficulty, the first riders across the summit win points with the rider who has accumulated the most points wearing the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey
Here is the Tour's summary of the Devon stage: http://www.tourofbritain.co.uk/stages/stage6/index.php#.Vx9tcz_NUys
Sunday 4 September - Glasgow to Castle Douglas
Monday 5 September - Carlisle to Kendal
Tuesday 6 September - Congleton to Tatton Park, Knutsford
Wednesday 7 September - Denbigh to Builth Wells
Thursday 8 September - Aberdare to Bath
Friday 9 September - Sidmouth to Haytor, Dartmoor
Saturday 10 September - Bristol Stage Individual Time Trial
Saturday 10 September - Bristol Stage Circuit Race
Sunday 11 September - London Stage presented by TfL