The Tour of Britain will hopefully be visiting Cornwall for the first time in the event’s history, after Cornwall Council agreed to allocate funding to host the opening stage of the event in 2020. Thousands will be able to watch from the roadside and cheer on the column of cyclists as it begins to roll it’s way through the county for the opening stage of the nationwide cycling tour. With the chance to see some of the world’s finest cyclists competing, the Grand Depart would undoubtedly be the biggest event on the Cornish sporting calendar.
The tour, in its current format, has been running since 2004, but has yet to visit the shores of Cornwall. On November 7th, Cornwall Council agreed to allocate £345,000 of initial funding to provide the county with enough money to secure the bid, with initial projections predicting that the race could bring an economic boost of around £3milllion to the Cornish economy.
Truro City Councillor Loic Rich was one if the biggest proponents of the bid, and put forward the motion to Cornwall Council asking for money to fund a sponsorship plan being drawn up to host the event.
When asked about the funding, Councillor Rich said: “The Tour has been looking to get Cornwall involved for a long time so it wasn’t like we had to compete with the bid: it was just a matter of finding the funding. The hope is that the council won’t actually spend any money on this event, and that sponsorship will cover the running costs. As councillor’s, we’re very aware that there are many other areas that require funding, but we’re confident that whilst the council is covering the funding initially, this will not pull money away for other areas.”
“We will be appointing a sponsorship manager at some point soon to ensure that side of things is handled properly. I’m sure the event will make money, but we’re not judging the success of the stage based on the revenue it brings in. The real hope is that it gets more people involved in cycling. It’s such a great sport for people to take part in, and good for both their physical and mental wellbeing. So if this event gets more people cycling then I’d see it as a success.”
The event is designed to be free to all spectators and the idea is that whilst people come along to watch the peloton fly through their towns and villages, they stay for the surrounding celebrations. Councillor Rich described the atmosphere of a previous tour stage he saw as “like a carnival” with everyone having fun, market stands and stalls everywhere, and the whole place feeling like a street party.
“The economic benefits go without saying, the race taking place in early September with there still being many tourists in Cornwall.”
There are already a plethora of community cycling groups around Cornwall that encourage people to get on a bike and start cycling. Simon Jones is a member of the Falmouth Wheelers cycling club. On the tour coming to Cornwall, he said: “As the local Falmouth cycling club we are excited to hear that the bid has just been agreed by Cornwall Council.
“There are already signs that what is described as the ‘preferred’ route will include Falmouth. The economic benefits go without saying, the race taking place in early September with there still being many tourists in Cornwall generally. The school holidays will have finished and the possible gridlocks we saw this year will have passed.”
The so called “preferred” route that Jones mentioned would supposedly take riders from Penzance to Bodmin, with stops in Marazion, St Just, St Ives, Hayle, Gwithian, Camborne, Redruth, Stithians, Falmouth, Truro, Newquay, St Columb Major, St Austell, and the Eden Project, as previously reported by Cornwall Live.
This route would provide just over 200,000 people in Cornwall an opportunity to see some of the cycling action as it passes through their area.
A spokesperson for the Tour of Britain specified that whilst they are confident in Cornwall Council’s ability to host a stage, that nothing has been confirmed as of yet. However, they also said that a final decision could well be announced within the next 6 weeks.
The spokesperson said: “Cornwall lends itself to cycling. It’s got great scenery: you can go anywhere and encapsulate the sense of community from the population. We want to take these events to people, not just riding through the countryside and I think Cornwall certainly lends itself to that.”
So there’s no better time to clip your cleats into your pedals, strap on your helmet, and get on your bike to enjoy some of the two wheeled action coming to Cornwall in 2020. By the time the tour comes to Cornwall, you might even be able to keep up.