Today’s the Day: Cycling fever builds as Tour of Britain heads for Norfolk and Suffolk
Cycling fever is set to take over the region today as hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to welcome the return of the Tour of Britain.
Spectators are set to bask in sunshine as the 2012 edition of the week-long professional cycling race gets its wheels in motion.
Setting off from Ipswich, the Adnams-supported East Anglia leg will see a stellar line-up of riders - including Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish - head through towns and villages in Suffolk before crossing into Norfolk near Great Yarmouth where there will be a sprint along South Beach Parade.
The peloton will then race onto Caister, Filby, Potter Heigham, Hoveton, Coltishall, Reepham, Swanton Morley, Dereham, Mattishall, East Tuddenham, Colton and Easton, before finishing at the Norfolk Showground at Costessey.
At the finish, a free family fun day has been arranged to coincide with the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival 2012 in association with Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk Council.
Last year, more than 150,000 lined the streets to watch the East Anglia stage of the race - and with British cycling on a huge high at the moment and the chance to see both Wiggo and Cav, crowds are expected to be even bigger this time round.
Furthermore, weather forecasters are predicting tomorrow to be a late summer scorcher with temperatures set to soar up to 27 degrees.
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Tour of Britain spokesman Peter Hodges said: 'It's now here and upon us and we are really looking forward to seeing the race on the road and giving people a show.
'The support in Norfolk has been amazing the last two years when cycling hasn't had so much of a high profile as this year so now with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish taking part and all the build up following the Tour de France and the Olympics, the crowds are going to be unbelievable.
'We're looking forward to seeing the roadside packed and hope that Norfolk fans will do us proud once again.'
Tomorrow will be the third time Norfolk has hosted a stage of the Tour of Britain.
Last year it brought �3m into the economy - and the so-called 'Wiggo effect' is expected to bring in a further �1m this year.
The flat nature of the stage means it should end in bunch sprint at the Showground, making current world road race champion Cavendish a firm favourite to cross the line first.
Meanwhile, a wide range of activities have been planned along the route with communities hosting fun days and entertainment.
There will be street entertainers encouraging the crowds in Coltishall and Horstead. And the scouts in Reepham will be providing a barbecue in the Market Place.
The free family fun day at the Norfolk Showground will include a bandstand marathon, which will also mark the end of the London 2012 Festival.
Places to watch the Tour of Britain
Riders will be battling it out to win points for the Skoda-sponsored King of the Mountains polka dot jersey as they climb through the village, with the road rising up past the green onto a section of gently undulating road. The peloton is expected to arrive at about 11.27am, before heading into Reydon.
The coastal town welcomes the race to Norfolk with riders heading onto the promenade to contest the second Yodel-sponsored sprint competition of the race on the long section on the seafront of the famous resort. The riders will be sprinting along South Beach Parade, outside the White Feather Hotel, at about 12.40pm.
The day's final sprint in Church Street, outside the Red Lion pub, will decide on whose shoulders the red and green jersey will first sit in 2012. The riders are due to arrive in the village at about 1.26pm.
The best climbers in each team will be putting their best pedals forward on this section. Look out for a bit of jostling and position changing here. Tour spokesman Sophie Molyneux said: 'Although it's not the toughest climb of the Tour this year, it will still be taken very seriously as it will give someone who is not a pure climber a chance to be the wearer of the first KoM jersey.' They are due to be in the village at about 2.08pm.
Dereham to the Norfolk Showground
The stage turns towards Norwich at Dereham, setting up the final kilometres on the back roads to the Royal Norfolk Showground. A long straight leads to the final kilometre, entirely within the showground, which also hosts the Taste the Best of Norfolk Food & Drink Festival and Family Fun Day. Two 90 degree corners will set riders up for the run to the line, perfectly suited to a bunch sprint to get the 2012 Tour off to a spectacular start. The finish is expected to be at about 2.46pm.