County Durham is set for a tourism boost as the internationally broadcast AJ Bell Tour of Britain cycle race comes to the region next month.
Over 100 of the world’s top professional cyclists will be racing in Stage Three of the tour as it journeys from the county to neighbouring Sunderland on Tuesday 6 September.
The 101-mile route will travel through County Durham and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark, showcasing landscapes, landmarks and attractions to a live worldwide audience on ITV4, Global Cycling Network and Eurosport.
Cycling charity Sustrans estimates that leisure and tourism cycling on the National Cycle Network contributes £650million a year to the economy and supports over 15,000 jobs, while a Department for Transport study found that cycle tourists spend around nine per cent more per trip than the average visitor. This makes hosting the Tour of Britain in County Durham an excellent opportunity to reach this valuable market.
Alison Clark, head of culture, sport and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “Hosting the AJ Bell Tour of Britain in County Durham is set to attract spectators from across the wider region and beyond. Each stage is televised and broadcast worldwide, showcasing the stunning scenery of County Durham and raising its profile as a destination.
“Cycling and outdoor activities are growth markets and by promoting the county through the Tour of Britain we can reach these audiences, and in turn, increase visitor numbers and support rural tourism.”
Cllr Charlie Kay, the council’s cycling champion, said: “We are thrilled to be part of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain, giving residents the opportunity to be inspired by some of the world’s top riders as the race makes its way through towns and villages across the county, including my home village of Coundon.
“It has been well over 10 years since the Tour last raced through Durham City, so it is a fantastic opportunity to host the Stage Three start and showcase more of County Durham during the route.”
Starting at St Mary’s College in Durham City at 11.15am, the race will head west to the Durham Dales, through Weardale and the towns of Wolsingham and Stanhope.
The route then heads east through Teesdale to Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland, racing into Sunderland via Hetton-le-Hole.
A series of sprints and climbs at Chapel Fell, Harthope Moss, Billy Lane, Stanhope, Bishop Auckland and Ferryhill will serve as popular viewing locations. The points on offer at each location go towards determining the outcome of the hotly-contested King of the Mountains and sprint jerseys.
It is free to attend and is set to be a thrilling event for spectators.
A rolling programme of road closures will be enforced on the stage route. Closures will be in place for a period of around 30 minutes to allow the race to pass safely.
Details on road closures are available at www.durham.gov.uk/tourofbritainroadclosures
The tour’s visit is just one of the many cultural events and activities taking place in the county this year, with sport being an important part of the culture of a place.
This includes delivering key projects within the county’s shortlisted UK City of Culture bid and raising its profile as a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest. It further cements Durham’s position as the culture county and demonstrates the council’s ongoing commitment to culture-led regeneration.
It also includes progressing major capital projects, such as the redevelopment of the former DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery into a stunning new creative centre showcasing national and international contemporary art alongside collections that celebrate the county’s heritage.
Further information about the Tour of Britain is available at https://tourofbritain.co.uk/