For one day this month the sporting spotlight will be firmly on Sussex when the Tour of Britain whizzes through the county. Mick Bennett, race director from organisers SweetSpot Group, explains why it is a must-see event for all the family.
“Planning for each edition of the Friends Life Tour of Britain actually begins well in advance of the previous edition of the race, so when race day on Saturday September 13 comes around, it will be the fruition of a lot of hard work from a number of people.
Not just from my team at SweetSpot, who have organised the Tour of Britain since 2004, but also our local partners for Stage Seven in West and East Sussex Councils, Brighton & Hove City Council and not to forget Surrey Heath Borough Council up at the start in Camberley.
Then there is all of the work from the various officers at those councils, the numerous borough councils also involved in the planning, plus all of the blue light and highways authorities, without whom we couldn’t put the race on. So the Friends Life Tour of Britain really is a team effort to go from being a line connecting two dots on a map, to a living, breathing organism containing 114 riders and well in excess of 700 staff across the teams and organisation, travelling the length and breadth of the UK.
The process begins with the venues, and we were delighted to begin working with Brighton during the Spring of 2013 to make a ‘Sussex’ stage a reality. From initial meetings that process moves through route planning, then driving potential routes, and of course we want a stage that is firstly safe and secure, but also provides a good challenge and creates good racing. Finally we want the stage to ‘show off’ the areas it passes through.
We have three hours of live television coverage on ITV4 and British Eurosport in the UK, plus numerous other channels around the world, so remember as you see the great pictures of the Tour racing past Lewes Castle or Beachy Head, that these pictures are being beamed around the world. Just as viewers watch the Tour de France for the scenery and landmarks, so too the Friends Life Tour of
Britain can showcase the fantastic, varied landscapes and heritage we have in Britain. We’ve seen TV audiences and website visitors steadily increase year-on-year, and the numbers of spectators at the roadside growing exponentially, not least in the past two years. We are sure they will be keen to see how the professionals tackle Ditchling Beacon. The way we have designed the leg means the stage is back loaded with the three SKODA King of the Mountains climbs of Beachy Head, Ditchling Beacon and then Bear Road. I hope lots and lots of you can join us and find out firsthand!”