ORGANISERS of the Tour of Britain have said that the South West stages will be the toughest ever.

The race will see cyclists set off from Bedford Square in Tavistock on stage five of the tour on September 15, covering 109 miles and crossing Dartmoor National Park.

The other South West stage, stage four, will be from Minehead to Teignmouth.

The South West stages make up a quarter of the entire race and provide two of the three longest routes on this years tour. Over the two days the riders will face six King of the Mountains climbs, four of them being the most challenging category one climbs, and six sprints.

Around a quarter of a million people were attracted along the route of the two South West stages in last years tour, generating almost £6-million for the economies of Devon and Somerset over the two days, and it is hoped that this years race will prove even more popular.

Tavistocks Tour of Britain local events committee hopes that the race will bring more than 5,000 people into the town on both September 14, where a number of events will be held in the town centre as the cyclists arrive, and on September 15 when they set off on stage five.

Free entertainment is planned for the evening before the cyclists set off, including a national extreme BMX stunt display, live music, food fair and a fun fair.

Tour of Britain event co-ordinator for Tavistock, James Clapp, said arrangements for the event were going well, with a lot of activities booked and more in the pipeline.

He said: There will be a concert on the Tuesday night which starts at 4pm and finishes at 10.30pm, with the Rock N Roll Outlaws, The Adventures Of, the Needletones, Seth Lakeman and Mad Dog Mcrea confirmed to play. Weve got a pretty good stage and sound system so it should be a very good event.

We are going to be putting in a ticketing system for the evening, where people can register on our website and download up to four tickets per person. The website will be launched on August 16. Initially there will be 4,000 tickets available on the website, and there will be a limited amount available at the gates.

The event will take place in the town centre from Abbey Bridge to the end of the church on Plymouth Road and up to the roundabout outside the Conservative Club.

James said: Team Extreme will be doing a cycle display and coaching for youngsters. It has been paid for by the town council, so the youngsters can just turn up and get some coaching. Team Extreme will be lending bikes and safety equipment.

There will also be a big inflatable slide, a bungee trampoline, catering for the evening event and childrens rides at the bus station.

I think it will be an excellent event for the community.

It is quite an honour for Tavistock to be able to host a stage of the Tour of Britain and we are trying to do all we can to make it an exciting event as possible.

The website will be up and running on Monday to register for tickets go to the website at">

The tour will be televised nationally on ITV, and will follow the cyclists as they set off from Bedford Square, heading out along Duke Street, Brook Street, Parkwood Road and onto the Princetown Road.

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: Our crowds were singled out for praise by the national organisers of the tour last year, so were looking to improve on that again.

This is Britains premier cycle race and a great opportunity for people to see some of the worlds top riders and teams who have just been competing in the Tour de France.

But its more than that; its also a great spectacle that brings visitors to the region and offers a chance for communities to get together and be part of a special event.

Hopefully, it will inspire people of all ages, from across the country and at home, to enjoy cycling in Devon.

For more information of the South West stages of the Tour of Britain visit the website">