THE COUNTRY’S biggest cycling race will “help put Worcester on the map” it has been pledged, as Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins confirmed he is taking part.
The statement came from Coun Simon Geraghty, Worcester City Council leader, days before thousands of people are expected to line the city’s streets to watch some of the world’s best cyclists battle it out in the Tour of Britain.
Next Wednesday’s (September 10) fourth stage will see more than a hundred riders line up at 10.30am at The Hive and head along The Butts, City Walls Road, Deansway, New Road before leaving the city via St Johns.
The competitors will then cycle through neighbouring towns and villages including Malvern, Pershore and Evesham, before finishing in Bristol.
Coun Geraghty said the event, which will be screened on ITV4 and Eurosport, was a great opportunity to showcase the city.
“This will put Worcester and Worcestershire on the map,” he said. “We are well-versed in hosting big events, so it is good to have the cycle race start in the city as I am sure there will be a large crowd.
“It also encourages people who are planning events to see the city as a good venue for that. It just plants the seed in so many people’s minds that Worcester has something to offer.
“Having the backdrop of the city on TV and with the buildings like The Hive it will show that Worcester is a modern and progressive city and that it is not just resting on its heritage and cultural theme.”
There will be a number of rolling road closures throughout the race, with The Butts notably shutting between 4am and 5.30am and 9am and 1pm. But Coun Geraghty said the positives far outweighed the negatives of hosting such a high-profile event, which was last staged in Worcester in 2008, as he believed it would boost the city’s economy.
One of the big draws for visitors is likely to be the appearance of 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins, who will lead Team Sky’s squad at the tour, which starts in Liverpool on Sunday (September 7).
The 34-year-old said: “The Tour of Britain is a special race for me so to be returning as defending champion is a real honour.
“It’s always been a tough race but the support we receive from the fans is incredible, and it’s our home tour so I’ve always enjoyed racing it.”
Meanwhile, Worcester City Council will be introducing a ‘pay one hour and get two free’ offer in four of its main car parks on the day of the event. Visitors will be able take advantage of the one-off deal until 1pm at Croft Road, Newport Street, Pitchcroft and St. Martin’s multi-storey car park.