Ready for the off: Tour of Britain cyclists at the start of the race along Sidmouth seafront.

More than 250,000 people lined the county’s streets and roads to watch the Devon Stage of the Tour of Britain last September according to an independent report.

More than 250,000 people lined the county’s streets and roads to watch the Devon Stage of the Tour of Britain  last September according to an independent report.
It reveals that despite the wet weather the Devon Stage on Friday 9 September 2016, hosted by Devon County Council and supported by Teignbridge District Council, East Devon District Council and Dartmoor National Park,  attracted more spectators than the previous 2014 stage  and generated more than £4.26 million for Devon’s economy.

Crowds lined the 150km (93miles) route starting in Sidmouth and taking in town's including Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Tiverton, Crediton, Moretonhampstead, Chudleigh and Bovey Tracey before finishing at Haytor.

And in what was a major international showcase for the county, the report says that 425,000 people watched the Devon Stage live on TV.

In addition 117,000 viewers watched the ITV4 repeat show of the Devon Stage, the highest repeat show viewing figures of all the eight stages.

The report also highlights that Britain’s biggest professional cycle race saw a total net visitor spend in Sidmouth, the stage start,  of £447,629.

Visitor net spend in East Devon as a whole was £909, 102 while  £1,382,474  was spent in Teignbridge.

Of the 250,000 visitors that attended the race,  approximately 45,000 came from outside the region, with around 55,000 people staying overnight.

Spectators got a glimpse of some of cycling’s biggest stars, including Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, two of seven Rio medallists competing.

The race overall was won by Britain’s Steve Cummings, with Xandro Meurisse winning the Skoda King of the Mountain Jersey and Jasper Bovenhuis winning the Yodel Sprints Jersey.

However, it was Team Sky’s Wout Poels who won the Devon stage of the Tour, for the second time in his career, following his victory at Teignmouth in 2010.

The report was based upon the findings of a web-based survey of more than 2,600 Tour spectators. Of those who responded 90% described the race as "very enjoyable" and 61% said they were inspired to cycle more often.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways with responsibility for cycling, said:

The impressive turnout and that more people watched the Devon highlights programme than that of any other stage, again demonstrates how well regarded The Tour is in Devon.

The Tour is now a well established event on the sporting calendar, and I’d like to think that Devon has played a role in helping to achieve that over the years. It’s great to see that this report has found that so many people enjoyed the race and have been inspired to cycle more often. 

That’s part of the legacy that we’ve always aimed for,  and along with the worldwide TV coverage,  it all helps to ensure Devon maintains its reputation as a cycling county.

The event generated millions of pounds of extra spending by visitors, benefitting businesses including bed and breakfasts, cycling shops, pubs and eateries across the county,  effectively extending the holiday season in Devon into September.

Although the race won’t visit Devon next year, we’ll be looking at the possibilities for 2018.

 Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

We know that thousands of people came to watch the spectacular start of the race in Sidmouth and they lined the streets and roads as the race came through the district. The weather certainly didn’t put them off. The Tour is the UK’s biggest professional cycle event featuring world class athletes and it was great that it happened on our very own doorstep.

East Devon certainly benefitted from all the visitors who came to watch on the day and I’m convinced that the television coverage which showcased our glorious countryside – including our World Heritage Jurassic Coastline - will attract more visitors in the years to come who are keen to see it for themselves.

Councillor Jeremy Christophers, Teignbridge District Council’s Leader said:

The opportunity to get up close to Olympic champions and world famous cyclists on our Teignbridge roads is something that will live long in the memory of those who came out to line the course.

The weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm and support for the Tour of Britain, which showcased the district through worldwide coverage.

It was particularly inspiring to witness local community groups and school children taking part on the day and being cheered on to the summit. The Tour of Britain is about much more than a single day of events but helps to build a legacy to encourage a healthy lifestyle and get people cycling.

We would welcome the return of the Tour of Britain to our district and this report demonstrates that we were right to invest in it and help bring such a high profile event to our region.

 Bill Hitchins, Chairman, Dartmoor National Park Authority said:

The Tour of Britain 2016 provided a fantastic opportunity for Dartmoor to host the summit finish at Haytor. This testing king of the mountains finish once again drew thousands of people to the National Park to witness some of the world’s top cyclists and the atmosphere was fantastic.

The Tour allowed us to showcase to the world what a beautiful part of the country this is and without a doubt the iconic granite outcrop of Haytor rocks dominated the scene as the peloton made the gruelling ascent to cross the line below its summit.

The extra visitor spend the Tour brings to the region is a welcome boost to the local economy at a time of the year when the main holiday season is drawing to an end.

A TV audience of around one million people in the UK tuned into the coverage of the Devon Stage on ITV4. The race was watched by 17million people worldwide.

Race Director Mick Bennett said:

We’d like to thank Devon County Council for their support in once again putting on a fantastic stage of the Tour of Britain. This year’s Tour was exciting throughout, nowhere more so than in Devon with the memorable finish in Haytor. We have worked with Devon County Council over many years and seeing the race grow in size and stature, and showcasing the county's towns, cities and countryside with some brilliant racing on ITV4 and the Bike Channel.