WEST Devon residents will have the chance to see cycling superstars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish race through the borough next month in the Tour of Britain.
The Devon stage of Britain's premier cycle race — the penultimate leg of the tour —takes place on Saturday, September 15. Riders will cover virtually the length of the county, starting in Barnstaple and taking in Dartmoor, before finishing in Dartmouth 106 miles later.
Devon County Council is predicting the announcement of the Team Sky tour riders will attract tens of thousands of extra spectators to the county, boosting the local economy.
Four-time Olympic Gold medalist Wiggins, the first British rider to win the Tour de France and winner of the Olympic Time Trial at London 2012, will lead Team Sky.
He will be joined by World Road Race Champion Mark Cavendish, who won two stages in last year's Tour of Britain, and Devon rider Jeremy Hunt. Alongside the trio of British riders are two members of Bradley Wiggins' successful Tour de France line-up, Bernhard Eisel and Christian Knees, plus Swedish rider Thomas Löfkvist.
'Cycling isn't something I normally watch, but I did keep up with the Tour de France, and with the tremendous achievements by the riders in the Olympics, and I think it's fantastic that we will have the opportunity to see them racing here — it's wonderful for us.'
Adam Fleet, Tavistock BID manager, said the BID, in partnership with the chamber of commerce and other organisations, hoped to capitalise on the opportunity.
He said:?'Now we know what the route is, we are hoping to move forward with organising a number of events in the town. We'd like to do as much as we can, while bearing in mind the riders are just passing through.'
Mr Fleet said a planning meeting was due to take place yesterday (Wednesday).
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, welcomed the confirmation that Cavendish and Wiggins would be riding: 'This is just the news we wanted to hear.
'I'm sure there will be plenty of people in Devon, from across the South West and further afield, who will turn out to congratulate Bradley Wiggins for his efforts in becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France and for winning Gold at London 2012.
'It will also be great to see Mark Cavendish sporting the Rainbow Jersey as world champion. Those two alone will attract thousands of people to the county, which is great for local economy businesses, and with so many other top riders competing, you can expect the 106-mile route of the Devon stage to be packed with spectators.'
Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett said: 'To have the reigning Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion, and the current world champion competing in the Tour of Britain is a dream for us.
'That both riders are British and such great champions means there is now unprecedented interest in the event.'
Hatherleigh and Tavistock have provided the venues as stage starts in previous Devon stages of the tour, and last year was the first time the county had hosted an entire stage with a route from Exeter to Exmouth, via Dartmoor.
Dartmoor again features this year and the route also passes through Bideford, Hatherleigh, Instow, Great Torrington, Okehampton, Princetown, Tavistock, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge, Torcross and Stoke Fleming.
The Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain 2012 will take place in Ipswich on Sunday, September 9 with the final stage in Guildford on Sunday, September 16.