The key aim is to bring the Tour of Britain Cycle Race to Somerset over a five-year period from 2007 – 11, to act as a catalyst for a range of activity aimed principally at promoting Somerset and its environment to a national and international audience. The long-term aim is to promote Somerset as a hub for sustainable tourism based around cycling. There will be short and longer term economic development gains, potentially improvements to the health and well-being of Somerset residents and changing ‘hearts and minds’ of Somerset’s residents around the potential of cycling as a key form of sustainable activity and transport.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Tour of Britain is the UK’s number one professional cycling event and the largest spectator event in the country. Since it’s re-launch in 2004, a mix of national and professional teams have helped place the Tour on a par with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
The first ever stage to be held in the South West was held in Somerset on Tuesday 11th September 2007 and was a huge success. It was quoted in Cycling Weekly as the ‘best day ever seen in the history of British cycle racing’. The success of the stage in the first year was unparalleled and partly due to the support given by the Rural Renaissance Fund. The funding allowed the organisers in Somerset County Council to properly engage with the local community, and help the small towns and villages reap the benefits that only an international sporting event can bring. Throughout the region, the rural community came out in their thousands to watch the race and enjoy localised events such as a beer festival, bike shows, live BBC broadcasts, live music and helicopter flights.
The race was also used to promote other initiatives and cycling issues that benefit the rural community. The Tour was used as a showcase event to highlight the benefits of cycling to promote a healthier lifestyle that is kinder to the environment and can ease traffic congestion.
“Congratulations on a magnificently well organised stage of the Tour of Britain”. Local business representative
“It was an excellent spectacle to watch – I hope it inspires all the children that attended to go on and become cyclists themselves”. – Helper in Somerton
“Many of the people met during the day were enthused and thought it was a fantastic event”. – Resident from Dulverton