Northumberland is to host two stages of the prestigious Friends Life Tour of Britain, the UK’s largest professional cycle race, it was announced today.
This will be the first time Britain’s national bike race has passed through the North East since 2009 and is a massive coup for the county.
The event is to be broadcast in over 130 countries, including live coverage on the ITV network, and will raise the profile of the county to an international audience.
Northumberland County Council has worked with sponsors Northumbrian Water and race organisers SweetSpot to bring the race to Northumberland.
Some of the world’s top cyclists are expected to turn up to compete. Last year the UK’s 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 eight stage race will take place from Sunday September 6, to Sunday September 13, 2015 and will enter Northumberland from the Scottish borders on Wednesday September 9 during Stage Four.
Cyclists will head along a route from Wooler to Alnwick, and down the spectacular Northumberland coastline to finish that day’s leg in Blyth.
The race will re-start 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.
Councillor Grant Davey, Leader of Northumberland County Council 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.
This is an incredibly high profile event, which will be televised to over 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 hope you will join me cheering on some of the world’s finest sportsmen as they make their way through our beautiful county this September.”
David Hall, Head of Leisure, Strategy and Transformation at Northumbrian Water said:
“I am delighted that Northumbrian Water has been able to help bring this elite sporting event to the region. As a company we work hard to promote the North East as a great place to live, work and visit and the bike race is sure to boost regional tourism and the economy.
“We have a long association with cycling, both in terms of supporting races and providing opportunities for leisure cycling at our sites. Annually we hold the Tour of the Reservoir bike race at Derwent Reservoir and our largest reservoir, Kielder Water, which is located in stunning Northumberland countryside, is the perfect venue for cycling.
Our support for the Tour of Britain further cements our commitment to the sport in the North of England. Northumberland has some of the best cycling country in the UK and this event will help showcase this to the rest of the world.”
The authority has been working with Northumberland Tourism to capitalise on the opportunities that the race will present, including accommodating competitors.
Councillor Scott Dickinson, business chair 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.”
Councillor Anne Dale, chai of Northumberland Cycling Board said
“Bringing The Tour of Britain to Northumberland sends out a clear message to the cycling community that Northumberland is a wonderful place to cycle. As cycling champion for Northumberland I'm delighted that people will have the opportunity to witness the best cyclists in the world race through the county and I hope that many people will be inspired to take up cycling as a result.”
Mick Bennett, Race Director of 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.”
The 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain will start in Wales for the first time in the modern race’s history, with Anglesey hosting the start of the opening stage to Wrexham. Subsequent stages take in the Ribble Valley and Pendle, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh before the race reaches Northumberland.
After the Stage Five finish on Hartside Fell, the Friends Life Tour of Britain will include stages in the Peak District, between Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham, and Norfolk and Suffolk, before a final stage in the heart of London, starting and finishing on Regent Street St James.
Once again ITV will screen three-hours of live coverage of every stage, starting on ITV for the opening Wales stage before reverting to ITV4 for Stages Two to Eight. ITV4 will also screen a one-hour highlights programme each evening during the race.