Crowds across the region got swept up in the excitement of the Tour of Britain yesterday as another glorious summer celebration brought at least 175,000 people together in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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Last night, as the race winner called the hugely-successful event worth between £2m and £3m to the local economy “incredible”, organisers said they were hopeful it would return again next year.

The first leg of the national race, which travelled from Ipswich through to Norwich via Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Coltishall, Reepham, Dereham, and Easton, surpassed both previous visits to this area as between 25,000 and 30,000 people gathered at the finish line alone.

Luke Rowe, who won the race following a dramatic crash which scuppered Mark Cavendish’s chances close to the end of the stage at the Norfolk Showground, said the crowds were “incredible”.

He said: “I’ve raced all over the world and I’ve genuinely never seen crowds like that before. You look at the faces and they are so passionate.”

Police estimated that across Norfolk and Suffolk at least 175,000 had watched the Tour come past or gather at the Costessey finish line event, which was organised by Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk District Council.

Barry Stone, cabinet member for cultural services at the county council, said: “The day was absolutely brilliant. I don’t think we could have hoped for anything better.

“There were thousands of people just on Great Yarmouth sea front and it looked like it was well supported right along the route.

“It brings a lot of extra income to the economy and a big feel-good factor.

“There’s a very strong likelihood it will come back again next year. It’s all down to funding availability but, because it’s worth so much – between £2m and £3m – we will make every effort to get it back for the fourth year running.”

Those hopes were boosted by the reaction from Tour of Britain organisers who seemed equally impressed.

Alastair Grant, commercial director of the race, said it had been “absolutely overwhelming”. “We are delighted with how it’s all gone,” he said. “The event at the showground, I’m sure, has been a fantastic experience for everyone who has come to see it.”

The county council acknowledged there had been some concerns about traffic around the Norfolk Showground, with visitors to the finish line event queuing for long periods to get home.

Spokesman Steve Reilly said, with 25,000 people and up to 12,000 cars, “some delays could not have been avoided”. He added: “We will, however, be reviewing the access issues that have occurred with a view to making recommendations on how access might be improved for future large events at the showground.

“Hopefully it didn’t detract from what overall was a great day and a great event.”

5 comments

  • People at the finish were shaking their heads in disbelief that the peloton crashed just as they came into the Showground, skidding on thousands of bits of gravel that hadn't been swept out of the way for the cyclists arriving. Many voices saying 'only in Norfolk' in embarrassment, a big let down for the spectators and a hard lesson for the riders, the day spoiled because of an silly oversight by the Showground staff and management. They don't deserve to have it again next year.

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    RV2008

    Monday, September 10, 2012

  • “There’s a very strong likelihood it will come back again next year. It’s all down to funding availability but, because it’s worth so much – between £2m and £3m – we will make every effort to get it back for the fourth year running.” >> Can Stone actually prove that ?. Why didnt the journalist question that figure and get Stone to prove it ?.

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    "V"

    Monday, September 10, 2012

  • If it does return to Norfolk please think about better organisation. At the Show Ground I think that poor organisation is an understatement! Only two posted maps of the area of the area, no non alcoholic refreshments within the 'square' and no specific facilities for the disabled to watch the finish. Very poor, we went home and watched it on TV. Sandringham last year was far better.

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    micklynn

    Monday, September 10, 2012

  • the EDP still wont let us question our council masters will you ?. Vested interests and discrimination is what these blogs are all about, with useless students as journalists.

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    "V"

    Monday, September 10, 2012

  • Certainly there were organisational issues, with thousands of cars trying to get into a single car park entrance - I get the feeling the organisers hugely underestimated the amount of interest in the event this year. I'm sure the Norfolk Food and Drink festival must have been overwhelmed! Next time, perhaps the food and drink show could find another date and the event (assuming a showground finish) should form the centrepiece for an annual Norfolk cycling festival. As regards disability access, I did see a viewing platform with ramp on the home straight for wheelchair users but provision could always be improved. Otherwise, the only slight disappointment on the day was that we got the briefest glimpse of Wiggo and Cav as they rolled in. A huge crowd surrounded the Team Sky bus after the race, but with the press having forced their way to the front by the side door, riders were unwilling to show their faces for fear of facing immediate interrogation and those that did appear were visible only to the front row. Sky need to build themselves a platform onto the 'death star' roof and do a team presentation at the start and end of every stage. Certainly I will be glad to see a return of the Tour of Britain to Norfolk next year, but with the organisational experience gained from having it three years in a row and the obvious huge support in the region, it might now be time for Norfolk and Suffolk to go the extra kilometre and start thinking about making an additional pitch for a Tour de France stage.

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    John Blunt

    Monday, September 10, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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