Wiggins confirms Barnstaple tour date

Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France winner will be heading to town to take part in Tour of Britain cycle race.

TOUR de France winner and Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins will head a stellar field of professional cyclists coming to Barnstaple to take part in the Devon leg of this year’s Tour of Britain.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist, who this summer became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, announced he was taking part in the eight-stage race at a youth cycling event in Lancashire on Sunday.

He will be joined by fellow Team Sky riders, World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish, who won two stages in last year’s Tour of Britain, and Devon’s Jeremy Hunt.

Alongside the trio of British riders are two members of Bradley Wiggins’ successful Tour de France line-up, Bernhard Eisel and Christian Knees, plus Swedish rider Thomas L�fkvist.

The tour starts in Ipswich on September 9, with the penultimate Devon stage starting in Barnstaple on Saturday, September 15.

The 106-mile stage will pass through Instow, Bideford, Torrington and Hatherleigh and across Dartmoor on route to a grandstand finish in Dartmouth.

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The stage includes three Skoda King of the Mountains climbs 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 Torrington, Slapton Ley and Kingsbridge.

Race highlights will be screened on ITV4 but Devon County Council estimates tens of thousands of spectators will line the streets to catch a glimpse of Wiggins and nearly 100 of the world’s top cyclists.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, member for highways and transportation, said: “This is just the news we wanted to hear.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of people in Devon, from across the South West and further afield, who will turn out to congratulate Bradley Wiggins.

“It will also be great to see Mark Cavendish sporting the rainbow jersey as World Champion.

“Those two alone will attract thousands of people to the county, which is great for local economy businesses.

“The London Olympics was all about inspiring a generation, and with this prestigious event on our doorstep, it’s a chance for people in Devon to be inspired by these incredible athletes taking part in The Tour.”

Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett added: “To have the reigning Tour de France and Olympic Time Trial Champion, and the current World Champion competing in The Tour of Britain is a dream for us.

“That both riders are British and such great champions means that there is now unprecedented interest in the event.”

Another Olympian, Euskaltel Euskadi’s Samuel Sanchez, who won the Olympic road race in Beijing in 2008, will be making his Tour of Britain debut, as will Liquigas-Cannondale’s Ivan Basso, a double winner of the Italian Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia. Endura Racing’s Devon rider Jon Tiernan Locke, who won last year’s Skoda King of the Mountains Jersey, returns and will be aiming to improve on fifth overall in 2011.

Another Devon rider, Yanto Barker, who was top British finisher in The Tour of Britain in 2005, will lead Team UK Youth on the team’s debut in The Tour.

Other South West riders include Simon Richardson from Somerset, riding for Team IG Sigma Sport, and Chris Opie, of Cornwall, who is another member of the Team UK Youth squad.

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