North Devon welcomes Tour of Britain in penultimate stage
12:59 17 September 2012
Crowds were ‘equal to Tour de France’ says race director, as Stage Seven kicked off in Barnstaple.
BARNSTAPLE was buzzing on Saturday morning as crowds gathered to send off the Tour of Britain as it started its seventh stage through Devon.
Race Director Mick Bennett said the Devon stage was the best the Tour has ever had.
He said: “That was the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at a stage in the nine years we’ve been running The Tour of Britain and it was equal to that of The Tour de France.
“To see crowds of such big proportions was unbelievable.”
The crowds tooted horns and waved Devon flags as the riders, including World Champion Mark Cavendish and overall winner of the Tour, Devon rider Jon Tiernan-Locke.
Due to a stomach bug, Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins was absent from this stage of the race.
But local councillor Ricky Knight made up for the lack of sideburns with his own pair as he led out the race with the Royal Marines and 30 young Bikeability riders on a Victorian three-wheeler.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the day was fantastic.
“The crowd, the weather and the scenery have all been incredible,” he said.
“It was great to see so many people along the route, probably the biggest crowds we have ever had.
“Local businesses must have benefited from that and I would have thought that it has brought in more than £3 million generated by last year’s stage.
“A live worldwide TV audience has also seen what makes Devon so special, it has really shown the county at its best as the premier destination for cycling.”
Check out our photo galleries for more pictures from the weekend.