Catch a glimpse of Olympic heros as Tour of Britain races through Devon

First published in Devon

Spectators who want to see Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and the other world-class cyclists in this year’s Devon stage of The Tour of Britain today have 106 miles of the county’s roads to choose from.

Tour de France winner and Olympic Time Trial Champion Bradley Wiggins and reigning World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish are expected to attract bumper crowds on the Devon stage from Barnstaple to Dartmouth, via Dartmoor National Park – and it is anticipated that the turnout will exceed the 125,000 who lined last year’s route in the county.

The Devon stage will start in Barnstaple, which will be holding a Big Cycling Weekend. This will start with a criterium cycle race around the town centre the night before from 7pm – 10pm.

On the day of the race, Royal Marines from RMB Chivenor will take on a Static Bike Challenge in The Square in aid of the Mayor’s Charity, the Devon Air Ambulance. They will start at 8am and will complete the same distance as the professional cyclists racing by 11.30am. Courtesy of The Bike Shed, the two teams of Marines will be racing on static trainers, which will be programmed to simulate the Stage 7 route, including all the major climbs.

At 8.30am, there will be the first of two performances in The Square from Jones and Barnard, whose unique style of comedy, antics and unicycling will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Family and friends will also be able to challenge each other on the velodrome bikes – with all contributions going to the Mayor’s charity – Devon Air Ambulance.

Riders will begin to sign on at the Podium at 9am and thirty Bikeability students will be chosen to take part in the Children’s Ride Out at 10am, accompanied by six Royal Marines and Councillor Ricky Knight – the latter riding a Victorian three wheeler.

After the start of the race at Long Bridge at 10:15am, when the peloton has left, Jones and Barnard will give their second performance of the day as the children from the Ride Out return to the Square for their own special cycle race – the Barnstaple Slow Race. In Okehampton, Fore Street will be closed from 9.10am for a special build up and celebration of The Tour of Britain passing through the town centre, there will be lots of activities and entertainment all morning, including face painting and bouncy castles. Before The Tour reaches Okehampton at around 11:40am, bicycle safety checks will be offered by Okehampton Cycles top cycle technicians from 9.15am until 10.25am.

There will be a display by professional BMX rider Kye Forte and Team Jump between 10:30am and 11:10am, with an encore performance from 12pm to 12:30pm after the race has passed through. Roads will then re-open at 1pm. Spectators on Dartmoor will also have plenty to do on the day of the Devon Stage. The day starts with Dartmoor National Park Authority’s popular Freewheeler bike bus service from Ashburton (8:30am), Yelverton (10am) and Tavistock (11am) taking bikes and their owners up to Princetown. Those who book a trip on this service will arrive in time to enjoy a great day and then have a mainly downhill cycle back home.

People are encouraged to arrive in plenty of time and park responsibly. Those arriving early to get the best vantage points will be able to enjoy watching the Active Dartmoor King of the Mountains team ride that takes place on the Merrivale to Princetown section of the Tour from 9:30am. Local cycle clubs and corporate teams will be competing over the same climb as the professionals.

Princetown will have plenty to entertain all the family with a climbing wall provided by Dart Rock, Crazy Bikes and tight-rope walking from Essential Adventure. Admission to Dartmoor National Park Authority’s High Moorland Visitor Centre will be free for the day and a special film starring Tour competitor and 2011 King of the Mountains Jon Tiernan-Locke as well as Great Britain mountain bike team member Andrei Burton, will be screened in the Centre. Centre staff will be on hand to provide advice on how to enjoy Dartmoor with your bike and there will be a special Tour discount on the latest cycle map of Dartmoor showing all the legal off road routes and designated cyclepaths. The map is colour coded with challenging off road routes as well as family friendly cycling trails marked.

Children can visit the Ranger Ralph stand, make something crafty and pick up free ‘Spokey Dokeys’ for their bike.

There will be special discounts on food and drink from Foxtor and Lords cafés, the opportunity to take a guided mountain bike tour (with bike hire available at Foxtor café) and a free bus service from Princetown to the Merrivale King of the Mountains section. If you want to find out more about the Freewheeler service or guided mountain bike tours, please contact tourism@dartmoor.gov.uk or see www.dartmoor.gov.uk/cycling for details of designated car parks and lay-bys along the route.

At the finish venue in Dartmouth, while the town awaits the arrival of the riders, entertainment will continue throughout the day. There will be a crabbing competition from 10am until 11am on South Embankment, local shops will hold a treasure hunt from 10am to 1pm, with entry forms available from the Tourist Information Centre and there will be a fete at Coronation Park from 10am until 1:30pm and stalls at Royal Avenue Gardens from 10am until 4pm.

There will also be performance by the U3A choir in Market Square from 10:30am to 11:30am and the Dartmouth Volunteer Band on the finish straight from 12:15pm to 1:15pm.

Andrei Burton, one of the world’s top mountain bike trials riders, will display his impressive skills at Coronation Park between 11am-11:30am, 12:15pm–12:45pm, and again at 1:30pm to 2pm.

Qualified Go Ride coaches will be available from 1:20pm to 2pm for anyone who would like to take the opportunity to ride the finish straight.

The Skoda King of the Mountain climbs always provide some of the best action. There is a category two climb at South Hill, near Little Torrington, followed by two category one climbs on Dartmoor at Merrivale and Coffin Stone.

Anyone planning to watch the race on Dartmoor should park responsibly and use designated car parks and lay-bys at: • Pork Hill (Grid Ref SX 530 751) – to watch the riders climb towards the summit of the Skoda King of the Mountain climb at Merrivale • Princetown High Moorland Visitor Centre car park (Grid Ref SX 589 734) – to enjoy the additional entertainment as well as watch the race • Dartmeet (Grid ref SX 672 732) – to see the third and final Skoda King of the Mountain climb at Coffin Stone.

Park and ride services are available in Dartmouth, operating from the car park just outside Dartmouth on the A3122 to College Way (opposite Coronation Park). An overflow car park will also be open at Venn Lane half a mile up from the main park and ride site. The last service from the car park before the race arrives is approximately 1pm.

Parking is very limited in Dartmouth and spectators are encouraged to use either park and ride, public transport or other local services as there will be an 8km parking suspension in place from Strete to Dartmouth, one hour before the race finish.

Local Dartmouth bus services will drop-off and pick-up passengers and turn in the car park on the B3245, outside the Police Station.

The Higher Ferry service operates between Dartmouth and Kingswear at the northern end of the embankment, while the Lower Ferry is at the Southern end. The last time that cars will be able to embark and disembark the Higher Ferry on the Dartmouth side will be approximately 1pm. Full service will resume at approximately 2.45pm.

Access to and from the Lower Ferry, will be via the alternative route of Victoria Road. Traffic will be unable to access Victoria Road via The Quay or turn from Victoria Road on to College Way and vice versa from 14.15 for approximately 30 minutes until the race has passed and it is safe for roads to re-open.

The park and ride service at Kingswear operates from a field car park outside Kingswear on the B3205 (Slappers Hill) opposite Hill head Caravan Club site, and links to Dartmouth via the Lower Ferry in Kingswear, but the cost of the ferry service is extra.

The foot passenger ferry between Dartmouth and Kingswear operates from Dartmouth from 7:30am until 11:10pm and from Kingswear from 7:40am to 11:15pm. The crossing takes around 15 minutes.

There are also ferry services to Dartmouth from Torquay, Brixham, and Greenway Quay and Dittisham. Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton to Kingswear where passengers can then use the passenger ferry to Dartmouth.

Road closures There will be fixed road closures in place in the start and finish locations and rolling road closures along the route of the race enforced by 62 police and civilian motorcycles. The rolling road closures will only be in effect for a limited period to allow the race and race vehicles to travel through towns and villages safely and to allow residents, businesses and visitors ample opportunity to see the event safely.

In Barnstaple, on Friday 14 September, The Square, The Strand, Longbridge, High Street, Castle Street, Cross Street, Commercial Street, Lower Boutport Street (from Queen Street to The Square) and North Walk (from the Civic Centre to Castle Street) will be closed between 6.30pm and 10:15pm On Saturday 15 September, The Square, The Strand and Longbridge will be closed from 5am to 1pm. Castle Street, Cross Street, and the inbound road on Taw Vale will be closed from 7am to 1pm.

Lower Boutport Street will also be closed from 7am to 1pm, with Queen Street to High Street closed at 10am when the usual High Street closure starts, and High Street to The Square closed from around 9am. All closures beyond Longbridge (ie. Station Road onwards) will be covered by the rolling road closure.

In Dartmouth, the B3205/North Embankment from Spithead turning to Rue De Courseulles Sur Mer, Mayors Avenue and Mayors Avenue car park will all be closed from 4.45am to 7.30pm All Dartmouth town traffic will be stopped from 1.15pm to 2.30pm as riders reach the finish line. This includes Coombe Road, the A379/College Way Entrance to Fire and Ambulance Station, and the College Way turning to Townstal Road. Spithead, The Quay and B3205 leading into Mayors Avenue will also be closed from 2.15pm to 2.45pm. Townstal Road and Yorke Road will be covered by the rolling road closure.

Anyone inspired by the professional cyclists who is looking for a day out before or after watching the race, could always go for a leisurely cycle along one of the cycle trails near this year’s Stage route. Choose from the Tarka Trail, which stretches from Braunton to Meeth, The Granite Way between Okehampton and Lydford, and Drake’s Trail from Plymouth to Tavistock, which will only have been fully opened just over a week before The Tour arrives in Devon.

The Tour of Britain 2012 got underway in Ipswich on Sunday (9 September), with the final stage in Guildford on Sunday 16 September.

Live coverage and highlights of The Tour of Britain will be screened every day on ITV4.

For further information visit www.southwesttourofbritain.co.uk and www.tourofbritain.co.uk on Twitter follow @SWTourofBritain

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