Tour of Britain’s Norfolk and Suffolk stage to inspire cyclists
The Tour of Britain will inspire a new generation of cyclists when it comes to the East this September.
That was the message sent by professional riders, race organisers and council leaders as they celebrated the launch of this year's Norfolk and Suffolk stage.
The joint event will be the opening stage – or Grand Depart – of the nationwide race expected to bring a �2m boost to the local economy.
It is hoped the event – along with the Olympic Games and amateur cycling events – will also promote a healthy lifestyle and greener travel by encouraging more people to cycle.
Day one of the race is on Sunday September 9 when the professional cyclists leave Ipswich and head through Woodbridge, Leiston, Reydon, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Filby, Potter Heigham, Hoveton, Coltishall, Reepham, Swanton Morley, Dereham, Mattishall, East Tuddenham, Colton and Easton before finishing at the Norfolk Showground for the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival
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Speaking at the launch in Southwold yesterday, race director Michael Bennett said: 'The joint Norfolk and Suffolk stage will be this year's Grand Depart so the riders will be a lot fresher and the race will be faster and a lot more active.
'As the race extends from Great Yarmouth to the narrow roads, the riders will be subjected to the wind which will dictate the stage.
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He added: 'The event will demonstrate that cycling is a very active, fun, sport to get into which can also help to transform tourism.'
More than 150,000 people lined the roadside to watch the tour last year, providing a shot in the arm for local businesses .
This year, the event will be televised to more than 100 countries, which may also provide tourism opportunities for both counties.
William Nunn, leader of Breckland council, said: 'We are really looking forward to welcoming top-class athletes to Breckland, and are privileged that they have chosen to cycle through four of our parishes as part of the tour.
'I'm really hoping people will come along to line the route and cheer on the competitors.
'I'm also hoping that this event will inspire people to take up cycling as a healthy activity.'
Amateur cyclists can ride part of the Tour of Britain by taking part in Tour Ride 2012.
Following the route of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk stage, the amateur event will take place on July 22 with rides from both Ipswich and Yarmouth to the Norfolk Showground.
Professional cyclist Steve Lampier of Team IG Sigma Sport said: 'Cycling is very popular at the moment – it is like the new golf.
'This Norfolk and Suffolk stage will be a fantastic day for the spectators, but a stressful day for the cyclists because the winds do have the potential to blow you off.'
The event has been sponsored by Adnams brewers and funded by Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Broadland District Council, Breckland Council, South Norfolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council.
The 2012 Tour of Britain takes place over eight stages between September 9 and 16.
For information about the Tour of Britain visit www.tourofbritain.co.uk, or if you wish to take part in Tour Ride visit www.touride.co.uk.