BUSINESS leaders this week gave a big thumbs up to the news that Tavistock and Princetown are to feature in the Devon stage of this year's Tour of Britain.

On Monday, tour organisers SweetSpot Group and Devon County Council announced the Devon stage (stage 5) will start in Exmouth on Thursday, September 11 and finish in Exeter — covering around 106 miles of the county, including Princetown, Tavistock and Okehampton.

The start and finish venues are a reversal of the 2011 Devon stage, when Britain's Mark Cavendish led out his teammate Mark Renshaw for a memorable victory on Exmouth's seafront.

Following the success of last year's Devon stage, which attracted a record 250,000 spectators and generated almost £5.9-million of additional spending in the county, it is hoped the local economy will enjoy a similar boost this year.

Excited for what the tour could do for the town and local businesses was Nigel Eadie, chairman of Tavistock Chamber of Commerce.

He said: 'If we are linked in to this race it is a brilliant opportunity to the town, as cycling has really taken off in Tavistock and the surrounding areas.

'This really is fantastic news for the town and the local economy.'

Tony Whitehead, chairman of Business Improvement District (BID), said the announcement of the Devon stage of the tour was 'such good news' for Tavistock.

'This will bring people and extra spending in to the county and that can only be good for the town.

'This shows that Tavistock is firmly on the cycling map,' he said.

Tavistock mayor Cllr Harry Smith said: 'The previous cycling event was a massive success and the fact it is coming back to Tavistock has got to be good news for the town, and businesses will benefit.

'The local cycling club's membership has shot up and now has well over 100 members — cycling really is important in Tavistock.

'I am absolutely delighted and it is superb for the town.'

Featuring in this year's tour will be some of the race's biggest ever line-ups of top tier UCI Pro Teams in the 18-team field, led by the likes of Team Sky, which won last year's tour with Sir Bradley Wiggins, and Spanish squad Movistar, which won both the Yodel Direct Sprints jersey and SKODA King of the Mountains jersey.

Race director Mick Bennett said: 'The Devon stage of the tour is always highly popular with riders and spectators alike for the challenge it presents — and this year will be no different with a challenging loop across Dartmoor, including the climb of Haytor.

'The Exeter to Exmouth stage in 2011 was one of our best-ever day's racing, with fantastic support from the Devon crowds, so running in the opposite direction and coming after the success of last year's Haytor finish, I think we can once again predict bumper crowds and exciting racing.'

It will be the eighth consecutive year that the tour has visited Devon. Over the past seven years more than a million people have watched the race in Devon along the various stage routes around the county, and it has brought in around £27-million to the local economy.

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management, said: 'Last year's Devon Stage was a fantastic occasion and a perfect way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the tour.

'Record breaking crowds turned out across the county, which was a welcome boost for the local economy, and this year's Devon stage promises to provide another great showcase for our beautiful county as a premier destination for cycling tourism.'

The race will begin in Liverpool on Sunday, September 7 and finish in London, with an individual time trial and a circuit race on Sunday, September 14.