Tour of Britain has brought benefits to East Devon
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:20 08 October 2018
Big events bring national focus to East Devon and the Tour of Britain cycling race is no exception.
East Devon may not be renowned for attracting national attention but since 2010, it has seen elite athletes race along its streets as cycling’s Tour of Britain has been staged across the area.
In its latest edition, Tour de France winner for 2018 Geraint Thomas, and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome were among the 120 riders taking part in this year’s event.
Previous winners of the Tour have included Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2013 and Steve Cummings in 2016, as well as many others from other nations.
With more than 100 riders competing in the event, it is a chance for the active and those less so to see top athletes racing along their streets – and spectators turn out in their thousands along the route.
Over the years, more than one million people have taken to Devon’s roads and lanes to see the race leaders and following pack of riders, or peloton, ride through.
The tour has criss-crossed the county, with Honiton often seeing the cyclists racing in High Street and it has twice started in Sidmouth and, this year, the competitors set off from Cranbrook.
The event is widely seen as a benefit to the area, with visitors spending thousands of pounds in the area’s businesses.
In 2016, the economic report for that year’s event revealed that visitors spent £909,102 in East Devon, with nearly more than £447,000 being spent in Sidmouth, where that year’s stage started.
The spectacle was also well received on television, with 425,000 people watching the Devon Stage live on TV and an additional 117,000 viewers watching the ITV4 repeat show of the Devon Stage, the highest repeat show viewing figures of all the eight stages, that year.
The report also showed that people had been inspired to get out on their bikes as a result of seeing the some of the sport’s top performers taking part.
Speaking after the report was published, Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for highways with responsibility for cycling, said: “The impressive turnout and that more people watched the Devon highlights programme than that of any other stage, again demonstrates how well regarded The Tour is in Devon.
“The Tour is now a well established event on the sporting calendar, and I’d like to think that Devon has played a role in helping to achieve that over the years.
“It’s great to see that this report has found that so many people enjoyed the race and have been inspired to cycle more often.
“That’s part of the legacy that we’ve always aimed for, and along with the worldwide TV coverage, it all helps to ensure Devon maintains its reputation as a cycling county.
“The event generated millions of pounds of extra spending by visitors, benefiting businesses including bed and breakfasts, cycling shops, pubs and eateries across the county, effectively extending the holiday season in Devon into September.
Bringing the event to the county is a co-ordinated effort, with various authorities getting involved
Councillor Iain Chubb, who was East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment in 2016, also reacted to that year’s report.
Speaking at the time, he said: “We know that thousands of people came to watch the spectacular start of the race in Sidmouth and they lined the streets and roads as the race came through the district. The Tour is the UK’s biggest professional cycle event featuring world class athletes and it was great that it happened on our very own doorstep.
“East Devon certainly benefited from all the visitors who came to watch on the day and I’m convinced that the television coverage which showcased our glorious countryside – including our World Heritage Jurassic Coastline - will attract more visitors in the years to come who are keen to see it for themselves.”
So as the memory of the 2018 Devon stage starts to fade, we have yet to see what benefits the Tour of Britain has brought to the area, but it was clear that it certainly attracted the crowds.