BRITAIN'S top road cycling event will pass through Mole Valley and Reigate as part of its new Surrey stage.
The Tour of Britain has never visited the county before, but cyclists will ride a 90-mile route from Reigate to Guildford – via Dorking – on the final day of this year's event in September.Organisers hope to attract about 150,000 spectators for each day of the 840-mile race, which will also be televised in 75 countries. The cyclists will gather in Priory Park in Reigate before heading up Bell Street and then doing a 'parade lap' around the one-way system, possibly in the wrong direction.They will then head out of town on Bell Street and Cockshot Hill before turning off on Prices Lane, Slipshatch Road, and Flanchford Road towards Leigh. The racers will continue on to Brockham and Dorking, pass through Guildford before taking a tour of the Surrey Hills, and finish back in the county town.The news is another boost for local cycling enthusiasts, who will also see world-class athletes during the Olympic road races on July 28 and 29.
Tour of Britain spokesman Peter Hodges told the Advertiser: "Cycling is booming everywhere in the UK and our experiences with the tour have seen many children get on bikes, so it's definitely not just about professional cycling."He added: "It’s a really difficult stage that will show off some of the most picturesque parts of the county."The beautiful thing about the start is that all of the teams will be parked up in the park. and people can get amongst them. "For cycling fans, It’s a great chance to come along, meet your heroes and get autographs."It’s a real moveable carnival that will turn up that morning."
"Maybe someone who watches in Dorking will one day be inspired to compete in the tour, you never know," he added.
"We've got five world tour teams signed up for the race, and we're hoping to have Bradley Williams and Mark Cavendish, who have ridden the tour before."
The race will begin in Ipswich and will have stages in Scotland, Wales and other parts of England before finishing in Surrey.
"It's definitely the hardest Tour of Britain we've put together," Mr Hodges said.
"Everywhere is good for different aspects, whether it's steep climbs in Devon and Wales or beautiful countryside in Surrey, they each bring a different charm to the tour."
Roger Young, manager of Dorking cycling shop Head for the Hills, said being chosen to host the Olympic races and the Tour of Britain has been a major boost for local cycling.
"I think anything to promote cycling will be a big boost for any town, and everyone who comes into the shop wants to talk about these big events," Mr Young said.
"We've seen people like Mark Cavendish come through Dorking and we had Team USA outside the shop and Team GB have been around as well."Richard Barnes, manager at Finches Cycles in Bell Street, said: "It is the biggest professional cycling event in the country – it’s like our Tour De France, so it is massive. "We will have all the top riders here. We have heard whispers about this for ages, but it is brilliant that it has been confirmed. We have the Olympics coming up too and we are finding road bikes are the growing part of our business.
Unlike the Olympic races, the Tour of Britain course will not include roads on Box Hill.
The precise route and relevant road closures will be finalised this month and full details will appear in the Advertiser.
Rolling road blocks would shut route streets from 15 minutes before the race until 10 minutes after the riders go through.It will be televised on ITV4.