Cycling history will be made in Devon on Monday as the Tour of Britain prepares to pass THROUGH a building for the first time in its history.
The route for the Devon stage – which starts in Cranbrook and finishes in Barnstaple, will see some of the world’s best cyclists race through South Molton Pannier Market in North Devon.
The second stage of the tour, which features a hilly 108 miles of road racing, kicks off at 11am
Spectators are in for a treat at South Molton Pannier Market where grandstand seating will be erected along with a giant screen showing the race.
There will also be a VIP viewing area and a special section for elderly viewers inside the market.
But the drama won’t just be inside the market.
As well as negotiating a tight entrance and exit to the building, the riders will be faced with a near 90 degree turn as soon as they come out of the building, which could make an interesting spectacle in itself.
The whole town has got into the spirit of the event with green painted bicycles hanging in shop windows and suspended from the roof of the pannier market.
Poster for the event are up all over the market town as well as traditional bunting hanging across the square.
Watch a flythrough video of the route below
Devon has a long history of hosting some of the most and exciting and challenging stages of the Tour of Britain, and this year will be no exception.
As well as the ground-breaking race through South Molton Pannier Market, the Devon stage features three big climbs, including the category one hill at Challacombe Hill in Woolacombe.
Where does the Devon route go?
Organisers say the Devon stage of the Tour of Britain will be one of the most “unpredictable, explosive and exciting” in 2018.
Starting in Cranbrook, East Devon, the UK’s newest town, the stage covers 174km (108miles) of stunning countryside across East Devon, Mid Devon and North Devon before finishing in the historic estuary town of Barnstaple.
The stage will travel through three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, skirt along the western borders of Exmoor National Park, visit the North Devon Biosphere Reserve and take in the stunning coastal road from Combe Martin to Saunton.
From the dropping of the start flag, the route offers the riders no respite. From Cranbrook, Chineway Hill in Ottery St Mary sets the scene for the first King of the Mountain (KOM) climb, just a few kilometres into the race.
Racers will then pass through Honiton, Uffculme and into Tiverton, racing down the High Street.
The race will then travel into North Devon, through the Pannier Market in South Molton and into Barnstaple before embarking on a 70km loop, only to return to the town for the grandstand stage finish.
The loop takes in the communities of Bratton Fleming and Combe Martin, where the race first touches the North Devon coast.
It then continues on the coast road to Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, where the riders will feel they may almost be riding onto the beach – Croyde and Saunton Sands, Braunton and back to Barnstaple.
This North Devon section will include a sprint close to Castle Hill and the last real test for the riders, the brutal 23 per cent incline of Challacombe Hill just 20 kilometres from the finish.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon Country Council’s cabinet member for highways management said: “Devon is synonymous with the tour, this will be the 12th time in 10 years it has come to Devon, and each and every time the crowds have been treated to a thrilling stage and something different.
“2018 will be no exception – this year the race will go through South Molton’s Pannier Market, the first time in the modern era the tour has been routed through a building.
“But that isn’t all – there’s Challacombe Hill, with a leg-burning incline just 20 kilometres from the finish which will separate the contenders from the champions.
“There’s racing along the beautiful North Devon coast, taking in two AONB’s a stage start in Cranbrook, the UK’s newest town.
“The list goes on and its free and generate millions for the local economy.”
Race director Mick Bennett said: “We know that the race always receives a fantastic reception from fans in the South West and know that this will be the same this September.
“The route that we have jointly designed with Devon County Council is very exciting and will ensure a thrilling finish for spectators in Barnstaple as we return to a part of Devon that the race has not visited for a number of years.”
Lead member for health and wellbeing at North Devon Council, Councillor Brian Moores, said: “It’s great news for the area that the Tour of Britain is coming to North Devon and I’m delighted that we are supporting it.
“It really is an event for all ages and something that shouldn’t be missed, so come along and enjoy the action. I hope that it will inspire more people to get out there and have a go at cycling, not only is it great exercise but what better way to enjoy the beautiful area of North Devon.”