Tour of Britain cycling race set to boost Suffolk tourism

SUFFOLK is poised for another tourist bonanza with the Tour of Britain set to return to the county this year.

It could lead to millions more pounds coming into the county after the success of last year's event, according to the boss of Suffolk's tourist body.

The starting point for Suffolk's part of the cycling race is still to be decided but it is thought it could be in either Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich or Newmarket.

Last yea,r the tour gave a huge economic boost to the county when �1.5m was pumped in after just one day as spectators lined the streets to see the professional cyclists.

Tim Passmore, chief executive of Choose Suffolk, said the news that the tour was returning to the county was very welcome.

'It is fantastic to know that the tour is coming back again this year. It brings a lot of people – and their money – into the county and gives us a chance to show off what we have to offer.

'Tourism is very important to the county – it is worth about �1.75bn – so any major event like this is very welcome to increase our profile.'

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But he said it was important that the county looked its best for the tour.

'With the Olympics coming up this will be a chance for us to show just what Suffolk has to offer, being so near the capital.

'But we need to work with the 'Don't be a Tosser' campaign to ensure the county looks its best – there really is nowhere better for this kind of event.'

Suffolk County Council is hoping that with the tour returning, it will be able to make even bigger gains than last year.

Colin Grogan, the council's sport inclusion and health development manager, said: 'The economic impact the Tour of Britain had on the county last year was fantastic.

'With the huge number of spectators drawn in by the event last year, we are confident that in 2011, we will continue to build on the success and achievements that were made in 2010.'

The Suffolk leg will be the seventh stage of the competition and will take place on September 17.

Peter Hodges, of the Tour of Britain, said: 'We were thrilled with the response we had for last year's stage; the crowds and the welcome were fantastic.

'We enjoy a good relationship with Suffolk County Council and have been working hard with them over winter to bring the race back and we're delighted to be able to do so. We're looking forward to another fantastic stage.'

The stage will be in partnership with Norfolk where the stage is due to finish.

Mr Grogan said: 'It was a great success last year and we are looking to build on the success this year.'

Last year, a stage of the Tour of Britain from Bury St Edmunds to Colchester was judged a huge success.

With the tour returning to Suffolk, the Halfords' Tour series will also be returning to Colchester.

The series is an evening race where pro and semi-pro teams will race around a closed-off section of the town centre on June 2.

There will also be a public 'sportive' ride in July which will give cycling enthusiasts the chance to do the same route as the professionals will be doing in September.

The roads will not be closed to traffic for this but there will be marshals, feeding zones and motorbike escorts for what is expected to be as many as 1,000 riders taking part for charity.

All the stages for the tour will be revealed on April 19 and the tour is due to start on September 11.

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