Northumberland will host two stages of this year’s prestigious Friends Life Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycle race, it was announced today.
The eight-day race, in September, will stay in the county for two days, incorporating two start and finish sections, promising to make for a great sporting spectacle.
Britain’s national bike race will be passing through the North East for the first time since 2009 and is a massive coup for the county, as the event is to be broadcast in more than 130 countries, including live coverage on the ITV network, and will raise the profile of the county internationally.
Some of the world’s top cyclists are expected to turn up to compete. Last year, British favourites Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were in the starting line-up and hopes are high that they will be competing again this year.
The race, from September 6 to 13, will enter Northumberland from the Scottish Borders on Wednesday, September 9, during Stage Four. The race will head along a route from Wooler to Alnwick then down the Northumberland coastline, via Amble and Cresswell, to finish that day in Blyth. The race will restart the following morning from Prudhoe and will follow Hadrian’s Wall, heading across the Pennines into Cumbria before ending in a summit finish on Hartside Fell – one of the key stages of the race.
Northumberland County Council has been working closely with race organisers SweetSpot from the outset and council leader Grant Davey said: “A lot of work has taken place behind the scenes to bring this event to the county and we are proud and delighted that Northumberland will be hosting the Tour of Britain.
We are proud and delighted that Northumberland will be hosting the Tour of BritainGrant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council
“This is an incredibly high-profile event, which will be televised to more than 100 countries. The route will travel through the heart of the county and will give us a fantastic opportunity to showcase Northumberland, and all it has to offer, to an international audience. No amount of money could buy this sort of publicity.
“The race will give the people of Northumberland the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing right here on our door step and promises to be an exciting spectacle. I’d like to publicly thank Northumbrian Water for their support in sponsoring the Northumberland leg of this event.”
The authority has been working with Northumberland Tourism to capitalise on the opportunities that the race will present, including accommodating competitors.
Coun Scott Dickinson, business chairman for Northumberland County Council, said: “We recognise the huge importance that high-profile sporting events provide to local companies and the boost they can make to the local economy. The race will be travelling through many communities, both large and small, and I would urge businesses to consider how they can maximise on the many commercial opportunities that this event will provide both on race day and afterwards.”
Mick Bennett, race director for event organisers SweetSpot, said: “We are pleased to be working with Northumberland County Council to bring the Friends Life Tour of Britain back to the county this September. The two stages will showcase different areas of the county from the market towns of Alnwick and Bedlington and coastline of Stage Four, to the heritage of Hadrian’s Wall and the Pennine Hills on Stage Five, which will culminate in one of the key sections of this year’s race, the summit finish on Hartside Fell.”