Norfolk stage of this year’s Tour of Britain revealed
Norfolk is set for another multi-million pound boost after it was confirmed the Tour of Britain cycle race will return to the county this autumn.
The UK's biggest professional cycle race last year brought more than �3m to Norfolk when it held a joint stage with Suffolk and drew an estimated 150,000 people to the roadside across the county.
Now, the two counties have once again been successful in jointly hosting a stage of the event.
The Norfolk and Suffolk leg will kick off this year's Tour of Britain on Sunday, September 9. Setting off from Ipswich, the peloton of nearly 100 riders will snake through parts of Suffolk, including Lowestoft and Blundeston, before arriving into Norfolk.
They will then take in Great Yarmouth, Coltishall, Reepham, Dereham and Easton before finishing at the Norfolk Showground - in time for a food and drink fair as part of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.
Barry Stone, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for cultural services, said: 'The large crowd numbers that we have seen enjoying the Tour of Britain race in Norfolk over the past two years show just how successful an event it continues to be.
'As was the case last year, to be able to pool funding with other Norfolk councils and our counterparts in Suffolk, as well as attract sponsorship from the private sector, will enable Norfolk County Council to spend less on hosting the race, yet still deliver a top class event that residents will enjoy watching.
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'This year's route takes the race to some parts of Norfolk where it has yet to visit, whilst also returning to others, such as Great Yarmouth and Reepham.
'I am particularly delighted that we will be able to combine the race with the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival; to put on a fantastic event at the finish of the race at the Norfolk Showground.
'Whether watching the race, or enjoying the activities at the Showground or elsewhere along the route, Sunday September 9 will be a day to remember for Norfolk's residents.'
Kathy Gosling, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member responsible for sport, said: 'I'm thrilled that this year Suffolk will be hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour of Britain.
'Hosting the penultimate stage of the race last year had an enormously positive impact on the local economy and I expect that we will see an even bigger boost this year. '2012 is going to be a tremendous year for sport in Suffolk and to know that this international sporting event is going to begin in our county is the icing on the cake.'
A host of organisations have provided support and funding to make this year's stage happen including Southwold brewer Adnams, which will be the lead sponsor of the Norfolk and Suffolk stage.
In Norfolk, the county council plus South Norfolk, Broadland, Great Yarmouth Borough and Breckland councils have also provided financial support.
The Eastern Daily Press will once again be the media partner.
Claudette Bannock, chairman of Broadland District Council, said: 'This will be a fantastic year for getting out and supporting our sports men and women.
'Last year when the Tour came through Broadland, the atmosphere was electric; really inspiring. It's also a welcome boost for tourism and the local economy. I hope everyone will take part and enjoy the spectacle.'
South Norfolk Council's deputy leader councillor Martin Wilby said: 'This is excellent news for South Norfolk residents who will be able to see the world's very best cyclists right on their doorstep.
'I want to thank the thousands of residents who came out and supported the riders last year and we hope many more will join in this year's celebrations.
'The Showground will provide the perfect finale to this inspirational tour and we hope it encourages more people to visit this fantastic district, boosts local business and gets more people on their bikes.'
This year's event will be the ninth edition of the Tour of Britain and organisers hope to once again attract some of the world's best riders.
Last year, current world champion Mark Cavendish and the then world champion Thor Hushovd took part.
Peter Hodges, spokesman for the Tour of Britain, said: 'We are delighted to be back in Norfolk and Suffolk - the last two years have been fantastic.
'Both Norfolk and Suffolk county councils are great partners to work as is Adnams and the whole community. The whole area gets behind it and makes it like the Tour de France which is fantastic.'
It will be the first time the race has linked up with the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival which will be held from September 1 to October 7.
On the day of the Tour of Britain stage, there will be a food and drink fair at the Norfolk Showground from 11am to 4.30pm. It is planned to be a family day out with cookery demonstrations, local producers and family entertainment.
Richard Woolliams, chairman of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, said: 'It's great news that we've been able to put together these two prestigious events. There will be lots of fun for all the family at the Norfolk Showground and with free parking we hope that everyone will put the date in their diaries.'
Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive, added: 'Adnams is delighted to be principal sponsor of the Norfolk and Suffolk leg of the Tour of Britain once again. It is a terrific occasion and a great honour to have such a high calibre of professional cyclists passing through our region.
'This year promises to be even more impressive with the Grand Depart in Ipswich and the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at the Norfolk Showground. Once again we congratulate Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils for making it happen.'