Organisers of the Tour of Britain are hoping to ride on the recent success of British cyclists when the annual event returns to the county this autumn.

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The annual professional cycling race will return to the county for the third year running on Sunday, September 9, with the opening stage of the event.

It will see riders follow a route from Ipswich and head through Woodbridge and Leiston before passing through Reydon and Lowestoft.

They will then head on towards Great Yarmouth, Filby, Potter Heigham, Hoveton, Coltishall, Reepham, Swanton Morley, Dereham, Mattishall, East Tuddenham, Colton and Easton before finishing at the Norfolk Showground at Costessey, which is hosting the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

Teams taking part include Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins’s outfit Team Sky – although it is not yet known at this stage if the Olympic gold medallist himself or his teammate, current world champion Mark Cavendish, will be taking part.

Other Tour de France teams heading to the Tour of Britain are Orica GreenEDGE, Vacansoleil DCM, Garmin Sharp, Liquigas Cannondale, Euskaltel Euskadi and Saur Sojasun. They will join nine other teams.

Meanwhile, British teams Endura Racing, Team IG–Sigma Sport, Rapha Condor, Team Raleigh–GAC, Node4–Giordana Racing, and Team UK Youth have also confirmed they will ride.

Last year, more than 150,000 people lined the streets to watch the East Anglia stage of the race – and after Wiggins’s success at the Olympic Games and the Tour de France, and hopefully some gold medals to come from the velodrome at the Olympic Games, it is hoped even more people will turn out for the first stage of the Tour of Britain in Norfolk.

Barry Stone, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for cultural services, said: “The Tour of Britain is already an established sporting date within the Norfolk calendar for so many people, but we are hoping that the buzz of Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France and a medal haul in the remaining Olympic cycling events for Team GB leads to even more people coming out to the roadside to enjoy this year’s race... I am particularly delighted that we will be able to combine the race with the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival and to put on a fantastic event at the finish of the race at the Norfolk Showground.”

The nationwide race is expected to bring a £2m boost to the local economy. The event is also set to be televised to more than 100 countries, which may also provide a tourism boost.

Tour of Britain spokesman Peter Hodges said: “It’s a golden opportunity for cycling in Britain.

“Cycling is the sport everyone is talking about, and we are really looking forward to September – even more than usual.

“People will have seen the Tour de France and the Olympics on television and it will give people in East Anglia the chance to see professional cycling first hand.”

At the finish at Norfolk Showground, there will be an afternoon of free family fun from 11am to 4pm.

It will cater for all tastes and ages, with children’s activities, music, entertainment, arts and crafts as well as the spectacular race finish in the afternoon.

And to celebrate the county’s best food and drink, the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food & Drink Festival 2012 in association with Norfolk County Council has arranged competitions, information, food-related activities as well as stalls selling local produce.

The route, with the exception of the start and finish venues, will operate on a rolling road closure implemented by police and support motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists will ride ahead of the professional cyclists holding the traffic until the cyclists have passed through, the average time for the traffic to be held is around 20 minutes but can be much shorter depending on how many breakaway groups there are and the speed that the cyclists are riding.

Don’t miss our weekly preview on the Tour of Britain in the EDP every Thursday.

kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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