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Tour of Britain leaves North Devon buzzing



[Tuesday 18 September 2012]

Photo - Riders set off from Barnstaple in the 2012 Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain may have safely passed through North Devon, but it's hoped the buzz of the event and the knock-on effects will continue to benefit the district.

The Devon leg of the Tour of Britain started in Barnstaple on Saturday 15 September, with defending world road race champion Mark Cavendish among the long list of riders.

To celebrate the occasion, a programme of events was organised by Barnstaple Town Council, with support from North Devon Council and Barnstaple Town Centre Management.

The Big Cycling Weekend started the night before, on Friday 14 September, with criterium races organised by North Devon Wheelers - Southfork. The event saw large numbers of spectators come out to cheer riders on as they raced through the town centre. There are now plans to look at how these particular races could become an annual event in the town.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, crowds started gathering at 7.30am along The Strand and The Square, with the area packed by 9am. Comedy duo Jones and Barnard entertained the crowds, with various other activities and demonstrations also organised to complement the main race.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor Brian Greenslade, says: "Many congratulations to the people who did all the leg work in getting the Tour of Britain to North Devon. The local events in Barnstaple, both on the Friday evening and Saturday morning, were fantastic. Thousands of people came out to be part of the celebrations and I hope the increase in visitors also helped the local economy, with some hotels fully booked and shops also busy.

"Thanks also to the RAF, who circled The Square twice, just ahead of the Tour of Britain race. They are always popular here and it was great to see them wave out to the crowds, further adding to a truly memorable experience."

Barnstaple Mayor, Councillor Lesley Brown, started off the Tour of Britain race. She says: "It was a real honour to set the riders off on this prestigious event, and is something I will always remember. The children's ride-out, just moments beforehand, was also a magnificent sight and I hope the children involved were inspired and enjoyed the opportunity.

"I'd particularly like to thank the Royal Marines who not only rode out with the children, but also helped line the streets for the big event, and took part in a static bike challenge. This saw a group of Marines take on a similar course as the Devon leg of the Tour of Britain, only on static bikes. Thanks of course to all the people who kindly donated money for their efforts in aid of my mayoral charity."

The marines completed the course in five hours and three minutes. As a result, £321.51 was raised, which will now go to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

Councillor Lesley Brown adds: "We also need to thank the unseen heroes - North Devon Council's street cleaning squad who were out at 5am to make sure the town was tidy before the crowds arrived, and who then came back later in the morning to restore the area to its pristine condition. Bike Shed and St Johns Garden Centre also deserve thanks for their support and contribution, as well as the Rotary Club and Lions for their volunteer stewards."

The councils now plan to meet to evaluate the impact of the day and reflect on the longer term investment value. However, it's hoped the initial feedback already received from the weekend will help further boost the town's reputation and send out a strong message that North Devon is the place to come for future events.


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