UK's biggest bike race comes to Norfolk

Scores of the world's top professional cyclists will be covering 100 miles of Norfolk's roads in scenes not witnessed for years when Britain's biggest bike race comes to the county - bringing in more than �1.5m.

Scores of the world's top professional cyclists will be covering 100 miles of Norfolk's roads in scenes not witnessed for years when Britain's biggest bike race comes to the county - bringing in more than �1.5m.

The Tour of Britain race will be coming to Norfolk in 2010, thanks to an investment by Norfolk County Council, it was announced today.

It is the first time the county will have witnessed the event in its present guise although its previous incarnation the Milk Race visited four times over 40 years, the last of which was in 1991.

It is expected that at least �1.5m of additional revenue will be generated in the county as a result. Not only is it a first for Norfolk but also the first time a stage of the tour in its current format will be held in the east of England.

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The exact route to be taken through Norfolk is yet to be decided but, with the stage expected to cover at least 100 miles, it is likely to include many parts of the county, both urban and rural, and take in some of Norfolk's most iconic sights and locations.

Securing a stage of the race for Norfolk is a coup for Norfolk County Council's economic development team, who have been in talks with the organisers of the Tour of Britain for around a year in order to bring it to the county's roads.

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As well as the economic benefits the race will bring to Norfolk through increased tourism and business revenues, it is hoped that the tour will boost local interest in cycling and sport in general, particularly among children and young people in the approach to the London Olympics in 2012.

The race also provides an opportunity to promote Norfolk nationally and internationally as a destination and demonstrate that it has everything needed to host events on a grand scale.

Norfolk County Council leader Daniel Cox announced the news today at the Regional Economic Forum held in Norwich.

He said: 'I'm very proud that we've convinced the people behind the Tour of Britain to bring the race to Norfolk next year. This is likely to be the biggest sporting event ever to be held in the county and the potential benefit is huge.

'Our tourism businesses and those in related trades in particular stand to gain enormously from the national and international attention the Tour will bring.

'When dreaming up a challenging cycle route for top athletes, Norfolk's landscape wouldn't perhaps immediately spring to mind to those who don't know our county.

'We are one of the largest counties in England however with many features that will help create an exciting and demanding route. 'We have a fantastic range of locations and scenery comprising fens, broads, forests and miles and miles of beautiful coastline, cities and market towns that combine modern improvements and historic architecture, and excellent facilities for visitors due to our reputation as a world-class tourist destination.'

Michael Timewell, chairman of Norfolk Tourism, said: 'This is wonderful news for Norfolk. There is of course the direct benefit of a massive increase in visitor numbers in September next year.

'In addition, the publicity created by this announcement and the ensuing boost in Norfolk's profile regionally, nationally and internationally will begin to take effect long before September 2010, and continue long after the race too. Tourism is the county's largest industry, worth �2.2bn to the local economy.

Mike Burrows, acting chairman of economic development partnership Shaping Norfolk's Future, said: "Bringing the Tour of Britain to Norfolk is a major coup for the county. It will give us the chance to showcase on a national stage why the county is such a great place to live and work.'

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