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Devon leg of tour promises to test stars of UK cycling

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 14, 2012

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins signs autographs for fans before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins signs autographs for fans before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain

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A celebration of cycling will take place along the picturesque Devon leg of the Tour of Britain tomorrow as some of the nation's cycling heroes race through.

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and current Tour of Britain leader Mark Cavendish are expected to draw more than 125,000 people to line the 106-mile route from Barnstaple through Dartmoor and on to Dartmouth.

A packed programme of events and entertainment will be staged at a number of key venues along the route on the penultimate day of Britain's biggest free sporting event.

Drivers have been warned that some road closures will be in place.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the race would provide an "incredible spectacle", and urged communities to turn out in force.

He said: "There has never been a more exciting time in British cycling than right now. With the success of our cyclists at the London Olympics, and Bradley Wiggins winning an Olympic gold medal as well as becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France, this is a great opportunity to see him and world champion Mark Cavendish in action."

Barnstaple will host a Big Cycling Weekend, starting with a closed-circuit road race between 7pm and 10pm on Friday.

Then, on the day of the race, charity stunts and entertainment will start from 8 am, with comedy performers and a velodrome family bike challenge. The Tour of Britain riders will begin to sign on at the podium at 9am, and the race will start at Long Bridge at 10.15am.

North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade said: "As well as building on a great atmosphere, the weekend will also be a welcome boost to the local economy, and who knows, it may even inspire some young cycling champions of the future."

In Okehampton, Fore Street will be closed from 9.10am for a celebration before the first cyclists reach the town at around 11.40am.

Some of the best action of the tour can be viewed at South Hill, near Little Torrington, followed by steep climbs on Dartmoor at Merrivale and Coffin Stone. Anyone planning to watch the race on Dartmoor is asked to park responsibly and use designated car parks or use the Freewheeler bike bus service, which carries cyclists up from selected venues.

At Princetown there will be adventure activities and free admission to Dartmoor National Park Authority's High Moorland Visitor Centre.

At the finish line in Dartmouth, entertainment will include a crabbing competition between 10am and 11am, a fete and live music. Entry forms to a treasure hunt will be available from the Tourist Information Centre. Top mountain bike trials rider Andrei Burton will also showcase his skills between 11am and 2pm.

Live coverage and highlights of the Tour of Britain are being screened every day on ITV4.

Where to see the race:

The race starts at Long Bridge in Barnstaple at 10.15am, with riders signing in at the podium from 9am. Riders will pass through Instow, Bideford, Landcross, Great Torrington, Hatherleigh and Folly Gate. The race includes three Skoda King of the Mountains climbs from 9.30am, starting at South Hill, near Little Torrington, as well as Merrivale and Coffin Stone within Dartmoor National Park. There will also be intermediate Yodel Sprints at Great Torrington, Slapton Ley and Kingsbridge. After Hatherleigh, the route heads through Okehampton, Tavistock, Buckfastleigh, South Brent and Kingsbridge, then on to Dartmouth. Riders are expected to reach the finish line between 1.15pm and 2.30pm.

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