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Cycling event puts coast in spotlight

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:17 07 July 2010

Chris Hill

NORTH Norfolk is gearing up for an influx of international cycling fans when Britain's biggest bike race pedals along the coast in September.

Footage from the Tour of Britain will be beamed around the globe and up to a million spectators from more than 100 countries are expected to cram the roadsides for the eight-day event.

NORTH Norfolk is gearing up for an influx of international cycling fans when Britain's biggest bike race pedals along the coast in September.

Footage from the Tour of Britain will be beamed around the globe and up to a million spectators from more than 100 countries are expected to cram the roadsides for the eight-day event.

Norfolk's coastline and countryside will be centre stage on Day Six - Thursday, September 16 - for what may be the biggest spectator event the county has even seen.

While battling for the coveted yellow jersey, some of the world's top cyclists will pass through the Holkham Park and Wells after setting off from King's Lynn en route to the finishing line in Great Yarmouth.

The 120-mile route includes a “sprint prime” race along the Wells quayside at about midday which is due to be televised on ITV4 later in the evening.

Karl Read, leisure and cultural service manager at North Norfolk District Council, said: “We are hugely excited, as it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime occasions for such a prestigious race to come through such a large part of the district.

“We know now that the sprint prime at Wells will be televised so for us, the public and the community it is a great opportunity to get involved in a high-profile part of the race. The organisers wanted to show off the best of the county, and this is a great vantage point for spectators.

Mike Daley, general manager of Holkham Enterprises, said: “Holkham Estate is very excited at seeing a stage of the Tour of Britain coming through the park. We hope that as many people as possible will come and see this exciting spectacle.

“The whole tour will be a boost for tourism in Norfolk and we hope that people who come to watch the cyclists will stay longer in the park and enjoy all the various facilities we have available. Holkham Park will offer fantastic viewing points for spectators who will be able to stand all the way along the one-and-a-half-mile route.”

Talks between race organisers and councils across Norfolk have been going on for 12 months. Derrick Murphy, deputy leader of the county council and its cabinet member for cultural services, said: “The potential benefits of hosting a stage of the Tour of Britain are huge - with our tourism industry and those in related trades particularly set to gain enormously from the regional, national and international attention that the Tour brings.

“While our landscape doesn't offer an upward climb of the Alps, the cyclists will have to cover a longer distance than any other leg of the Tour, and we've used the landscape that we do possess to come up with a challenging route.”

As well as the economic benefits the race will bring to Norfolk through increased tourism, officials hope the Tour will boost local interest in cycling and sport.

Norfolk County Council has pledged £175,000, with additional funding coming from West Norfolk, North Norfolk, Broadland, Norwich City and Yarmouth councils.

Hugh Roberts, chief executive of Tour of Britain, said: “We are extremely pleased to be bringing the 2010 Tour of Britain to Norfolk. Our partners Norfolk County Council have provided us with the confidence that the stage in Norfolk will be challenging one for the riders and at the same time an exciting one for all the spectators.

“To be able to show what Norfolk has to offer to the huge cycling fan base of Western Europe as a boost to cycling tourism in the region is an especially exciting prospect.”

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