Norfolk opens 2012 Tour of Britain stage talks

Tourism and council officials have begun to lobby Tour of Britain organisers to convince them to make a return to Norfolk after the dates for the 2012 race were announced.

Tens of thousands of spectators welcomed dozens of professional riders to Norfolk last month for the penultimate stage of the elite cycle race. And local leaders are calling on officials behind next year's Tour to make a return visit following the success of the Norfolk and Suffolk stage on September 17.

The SweetSpot Group announced that the ninth edition of the UK's biggest professional cycle race will run from September 9 to 16, but have yet to establish an exact route for the 2012 Tour of Britain.

Council and tourist leaders are hoping to persuade Tour organisers to make their third trip to Norfolk in as many years after top riders, including Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish, praised the support they received from crowds along the 200km route between Bury St Edmunds and the Sandringham Estate.

James Carswell, cabinet member for cultural services at Norfolk County Council, said they were already in discussions about how the county can get involved in the race in 2012.

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'We're really keen to get the Tour of Britain back in Norfolk again next year, especially as it's the year of the London Olympics and it would be great to have some recently crowned Olympians hurtling along our roads on two wheels. This year's event was fantastic, with big crowds lining the route and enjoying the spectacle. The economic and cultural benefits of hosting a world-class spectator sport like this are huge and sharing the leg with Suffolk this year worked really well,' he said.

Organisers have confirmed that next year's Tour will be held across eight days and will visit England, Scotland and Wales and further details of the route will be announced in the New Year.

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Lydia Smith, director of Norfolk Tourism, added: 'The Tour of Britain showcases the county in the national media, provides a boost to the local economy, and is a great day out for residents and visitors. Norfolk warmly welcomed the Tour this year and I do hope that we will be given the opportunity to repeat the welcome in 2012.'

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