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Cycling stars set to pedal through Norfolk and Suffolk as Tour of Britain returns

PUBLISHED: 09:50 29 November 2014 | UPDATED: 09:50 29 November 2014

Mark Cavendish, centre, pictured en route to the Norfolk Showground during 2012s Tour of Britain. He suffered a nasty fall in the closing stages.

Mark Cavendish, centre, pictured en route to the Norfolk Showground during 2012s Tour of Britain. He suffered a nasty fall in the closing stages.

It's back - the Tour of Britain will return to Norfolk and Suffolk next year, bringing a multi-million pound boost to the region's economy.

Crowds at the Norfolk Showground awaiting the arrival of the peloton during the 2012 Tour of Britain. Picture: Steve AdamsCrowds at the Norfolk Showground awaiting the arrival of the peloton during the 2012 Tour of Britain. Picture: Steve Adams

Organisers of the UK’s biggest professional cycle race have confirmed that at least one stage of the week-long spectacle will be returning to East Anglia in September.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets when the Tour came through both counties in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Over the three years, the event increased in popularity and its economic impact grew, boosting the region by £3.5m two summers ago.

Exact details of where and when the colourful peloton of some of the world’s best cyclists will pedal their way through our region next year are yet to be confirmed - but it is understood the route will pass through several towns, and take in both Norwich and Ipswich.

An East Anglian showcase

The Tour of Britain returning to our region will again give our region the chance to shine.

The legacy of the Tour has already demonstrated the area’s ability and expertise in delivering major events, brought communities together to celebrate major events and developed significant public and private sector partnerships.

Spin-off projects have also given young people the chance to build new skills in a variety of areas including arts and events management, improving their education and employment options.

Schemes such as the Bike Music Project in King’s Lynn and Bridging the Gap in King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth kick-started as a result of the Tour of Britain.

Ben Jones, director of Active Norfolk, which is taking the lead on bringing the Tour back to the area, in partnership with Norfolk County Council, said: “We’re really excited at the prospect of the Friends Life Tour of Britain returning to Norfolk in 2015, it’s always a spectacular and entertaining event.

“It’s another fantastic opportunity to show people from around the country and beyond that this is a fantastic place to visit, and we have shown that we can deliver high-profile sporting events which will guarantee incredible support from communities across the county. We look forward to raising that profile even further next year.

“We’re hopeful that we can use events such as the Tour as a platform to raise the profile of sport and physical activity in Norfolk, to make people more aware of the dangers of being physically inactive, and to inspire individuals and communities to join us in 
raising levels of participation across all ages and in every corner of Norfolk.”

The Tour of Britain first came to Norfolk in 2010 when it followed a route from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth.

The Yorkshire effect

The world’s eyes were on Yorkshire this summer when the greatest cycle race on earth – the Tour de France – started in England.

Described as the “grandest” opening to the three-week race in its history, some 2.5 million people lined the streets as the peloton of professional cyclists snaked their way from Leeds to Harrogate on the opening day, and then from York to Sheffield on day two.

Speaking after stage two finished in Sheffield, race director Christian Prudhomme said the huge crowds seen on the route were “unbelievable, incredible, amazing.”

Hosting Le Tour is thought to have boosted Yorkshire’s economy by £150m.

It then returned in 2011 and 2012, sharing a stage with Suffolk.

In 2012 – the London Olympics year – some 180,000 people in Norfolk and Suffolk lined the streets to cheer on 
the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins and sprinter Mark Cavendish.

And while Norfolk missed out on the Tour of Britain in 2013, it was given the chance to host the prestigious Tour Series in Aylsham, which again welcomed top riders to the county.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “In previous years the Tour of Britain has brought significant economic investment into Norfolk and proved to be a hugely popular event, so the route returning to the county is a huge boost to Norfolk residents and businesses alike.”

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