Celebrity cyclists may tour Cheddar Gorge
TOP athletes from the world of professional cycling may soon be spotted whistling down Cheddar Gorge and across the Somerset Levels if The Tour of Britain cycle race is
TOP athletes from the world of professional cycling may soon be spotted whistling down Cheddar Gorge and across the Somerset Levels if The Tour of Britain cycle race is staged in the county.Somerset County Council is in final negotiations to bring the tour to the county for five years running, starting from 2007, and is prepared to pay £150,000 per year to get it.Picturesque landmarks like the Cheddar Gorge and Somerset Levels are being touted as key features in the bid.The authority's executive board agreed to go ahead with the bid on Wednesday and the deal is expected to be signed within a month. If finalised, the county will become the seventh stage in the nationwide race.Economic development leader Paul Buchanan said: "Bringing an international sporting event to Somerset was part of our Liberal Democrat manifesto. We've got the Olympic Games in 2012 and with The Tour of Britain we can put Somerset on the international sporting map."We have got everything you could possible want in the county, fantastic hills, beautiful flat sections and market towns."Even professional class riders would be challenged going up Cheddar Gorge or the Black Down Hills."The route of the tour would be up to us as regional sponsor and we would have the opportunity to pick some of the best bits to showcase on the international sporting stage."It's a five year deal, so we could bring the race through each district in turn. "Sedgemoor District Council is interested in hosting it, as is Mendip and West Somerset district councils."The list of benefits from the tour is almost as large as your imagination. "It's not just about the day of the race itself. There will also be a series of activities leading up to it and after the race. "It could mean silly money for the local economy and other community benefits. Research shows it's a very profitable event if managed properly. This is why we are not having the first race in 2006, which we could have done."Having it next year gives us a year and a half to maximise the benefit for Somerset.