7:30am Tuesday 15th July 2014
By Ben Wilkinson
NOW Britain has said au revoir to the Tour de France, Oxfordshire fans are looking ahead to top cyclists racing through the county later this year.
The Tour of Britain – the UK’s biggest cycling race – is to come through the county in September with some of the country’s best cyclists expected to take part.
Organisers are due to announce the detailed route later this month, but the sixth stage of the eight-day contest will go through Wantage, south of Didcot, Wallingford, and up through Christmas Common and on to Chinnor.
Tour of Britain spokesman Peter Hodges said he hoped crowds would line the route for the county stage on Friday, September 12.
He said: “It will be the first time that The Tour has passed through Oxfordshire since 2008, so it’s great to return after several years away.
“The crowds for the Tour of Britain are building year-on-year with events like the 2012 Olympics and this year’s Grand Depart of the Tour de France a huge boost for getting casual fans to the roadside as spectators, and also hopefully on their bikes as cyclists.”
He said organisers were working with organisations, including Oxfordshire County Council and Cycle Chilterns, to finalise the route.
Last year the Tour of Britain was won by Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Oxonian Cycling Club spokesman Dennis McSweeney said the Tour of Britain was the next big event for Oxfordshire cyclists.
He said: “There are some short, but steep climbs in the area which is a good chance to see some quality cycling close to home.”
Barry Gillott, owner of Ridgeway Cycles in Wantage, said he hoped the route would pass through the town’s market place.
He said: “It would be a great spectacle racing round the square.”
And he said the event would be a good chance to see some of the best cyclists racing, adding: “It is a good excuse to take a day off work and cheer the teams on.
“There certainly will be some well-known names there. It would be good if Wiggins was in.”
He added: “It is fantastic and it will get more people interested in cycling.”
Gareth Hudson, of Ridgeway Cycles, said: “Hopefully, it will be good for road cycling in Oxfordshire and the rest of Britain.”
Ben Hislop, who also works at the Newbury Street store, said he expected the county to greet the race with enthusiasm.
And he said: “Last year with the Tour de France the sale of road bikes went up. It is good for cycling all round.”
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