The 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain brings some very exciting news for us here at Cyced. Stage 7 will be finishing its grueling 186km ride in the regency town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Cheltenham was not only where Cyced was conceived, but also where I was lucky enough to join. So this is a meaningful event for Angus and myself. But that’s enough reminiscing for now, down to the details of the Tour of Britain in Cheltenham, and what it’ll mean for the Gloucestershire town.
Tour of Britain 2017 Background
Where’s the tour starting?
This year’s Tour of Britain begins in Edinburgh, and will end around 400 miles south-west in the Cardiff. This is the first time that the Tour has started or ended in either of these cities, and also the first year that it has not began or ended in England.
Cheltenham Tour of Britain Stage 7 Route
Stage 7 of the Tour of Britain finishing in Cheltenham, begins in the town centre of Hemel Hempstead on September 9th, before meandering 186km through some of our preferred riding territory. It then finishes outside Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham on the same day. The route will bring some of the world’s best cyclists over Aylesbury, past Oxford, and into the Cotswolds. Then through Bourton-on-the-Water to Moreton-in-Marsh, after which the riders will make their final run through Winchcombe into Cheltenham.
SKODA King of the Mountains Climb
This is the distinguishable jersey awarded to the rider who performed best on 3-4 designated hills across a stage. The cyclist who reaches the summit of each hill first wins points, and whoever has the largest amount of accumulated points wears the jersey.
Where will it be for the Cheltenham Route?
This is where it gets really exciting for us, as the burning question on our mind was; which hill would host the SKODA King of the Mountains Climb?
You’ll be excited to hear that the infamous Cleeve Hill will be hosting the event. This was the perfect choice, as although it isn’t the most difficult climb in the area, it is probably the hill that most local riders have a love/ hate relationship with.
It was the first monster climb I encountered and, even though it killed me every time, I could not stop going back. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cleeve Hill, it lies around 10 km from the finish line of Stage 7. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about Cleeve Hill, or some of the other more difficult cycling climbs in Gloucestershire, then you can read our article here.
What the Tour of Britain will Bring to Cheltenham
The Tour of Britain passed through Gloucestershire in both 2014 and 2016, but this will be the first time that a stage has finished there, so the county is abuzz with planning and preparation. 30,000 people are expected to descend on the town centre this September for the penultimate stage of the Tour, and news of the festivities is spreading like wildfire. There has been plenty of support from the local residents and businesses, not only due to a pre-existing cycling community, but also to the proverbial ace up the Council’s sleeve.
Before we discuss this further, there’s something important to understand about Cheltenham; it loves it’s festivals. Streets are flooded four times a year due to the Jazz, Music, Literature, and Science festivals. If you’ve never been to one of these events, I absolutely recommend it. Such a sense of community is created.
On September 9th 2017 Cheltenham Borough Council will be hosting it’s first Cycling Festival. The exact details of what will be present at the festival are yet to be announced, but we do know there will be events in Pittville Park and Imperial Gardens. We will keep you updated on information as it is released.
Economy and Tourism Benefits from the Tour of Britain Cheltenham
Other than the Cheltenham Cycling Festival, there are a few other things that the Tour of Britain in Cheltenham pretty much guarantees. The first is an increase in local tourism: the council expects around 30,000 based on the 35,000 who attended the Bath stage in 2016. Although, more could be expected as 40,000 people attended the Powys Stage. The second is a boom in the local economy: due to the increased number of day and overnight visitors.
Cheltenham Cycling Legacy
The other positive the Tour of Britain brings is the creation of a Cheltenham cycling legacy. This aspect will encourage thousands of people to start cycling every year (similar to the effects the 2012 London Olympic Games). A platform from which campaigns for new infrastructure and legislation can be made for British Cycling can also be made.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in this fun activity, promoting the wider health and environmental benefits and create a legacy”.
– Tim Atkins, Managing Director of Place and Economic Development for Cheltenham Borough Council
This is particularly poignant because it could mean large scale improvements to the cycling infrastructure in Cheltenham. The number of potholes and lack of infrastructure can be unpleasant for many cyclists, despite the towns beauty. You may not agree that it needs improving, but increased support for local riders would go a long way.
That’s about all the information we have on Stage 7 of the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain in Cheltenham for now. But if you aren’t quite done reading cycling articles yet then check out our articles on Gloucestershire Cycling Clubs or Cheltenham Bike Shops. Or if you fancied going for a ride, take a peruse through our list of cycling routes in Gloucestershire.
See you at the finish line.