HOSTING the Tour of Britain could be worth up to £5 million for the Devon economy, according to the county council, which is paying the firm that runs the cycling event.

Devon will once again hold a stage of this year’s event, which will be shown live on ITV4, on Monday, September 6. Riders will be racing 115 miles from Sherford – the new town being built near Plymouth – to Queen Street in Exeter.

Clearly Sherford to Exeter isn’t 115 miles town-to-city.  So the course loops around the South Hams and crosses Dartmoor, passing communities including Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, Yelverton, Tavistock, Princetown and Moretonhampstead on the way.

The tour last visited Devon in 2018, racing from Cranbrook in East Devon to Barnstaple in North Devon, when Australian Cameron Meyer won the stage.

Holding this year’s stage will cost the county council just under £220,000, which will be split over two financial years.

Council leader John Hart says for that money he ‘couldn’t buy the advertising for Devon’ that the event attracts in the national and local press, and on radio and television.

‘Nothing is better than seeing a whole pile of cyclists riding along the coastline at Dartmouth and Dartmoor and in that area,’ John Hart said.

He added: ‘I’ve been to a couple [of Tour of Britain stages] before and to see the people turning out shows you that it’s popular.’

The council says the tour has generated more than £41 million in Devon since 2007 and each stage it hosts usually generates £4-5 million. Around 1.7 million spectators have lined the route to see the Devon stages in that time.

This year, people will be able to see 108 professional cyclists, including British sprint legend Mark Cavendish, who has won more stages of the modern Tour of Britain than any other rider.

Belgian star Wout Van Aert, winner of silver in the Tokyo Olympics road race, is taking part for the first time.

Councillor Stuart Hughes (Conservative, Sidmouth), county council cabinet member with responsibility for cycling, said this year’s route was a spectacular one: ‘The race takes in Dartmoor National Park and many of Devon’s market towns, so wherever people decide to watch the race, hopefully they will make a day of it and support local businesses.

‘Our advice is, wherever you plan to watch the race, please leave plenty of time to travel, in order to avoid delays. We’re also asking spectators to work with us to keep Devon safe and follow the latest covid-19 advice at the time.’

This year’s Devon stage starts at 11 a.m. in Hercules Road, Sherford and the winner is expected to cross the line in Exeter just before 3.40 pm.

The race begins in Cornwall the day before on Sunday, September 5, and the 2021 champion will be crowned in Aberdeen on Sunday, September 12.