A CYCLE tour through the streets of Britain which has graced the awaiting Uttoxeter residents for the last four years will this year skip the town, it has been revealed.
The Tour of Britain has seen crowds line the streets of Uttoxeter eagerly awaiting the cyclists and last year they got an extra treat as they tried to catch a glimpse of their heroes such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
However, this year potential spectators will have to travel a little further afield as the tour completely skips the town as it stops in Stoke-on-Trent.
Peter Hodges, of the Tour of Britain, said this was due to the route changing every year, but did not rule out it returning to Uttoxeter.
He said: “Essentially The Tour of Britain route moves around every year, so Uttoxeter have been very lucky to have had the race pass through for the last four years, whereas lots of areas have missed out.
“Essentially the town’s benefited from Stoke-on-Trent hosting an entire stage for the past few years, whereas this year the city doesn’t.
“In the past having a stage both starting and finishing in the city has meant we could use a circular route coming out into Staffordshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands, whereas this year after starting in the city centre the race finishes in North Wales, so heads west away from The Potteries.
“I’m sure the race will return to Uttoxeter and surrounds in future years, unfortunately every year places in the country have to miss out.
“On a more positive note, our mass participation Tour Ride sportive on Sunday, September 1 does come through Uttoxeter, with amateur cyclists riding either a 50 or 100-mile route based upon last year’s Tour of Britain stage.
“At the moment we’ve around 500 cyclists taking part in the event.”
Although the news will come as a blow for the town, Olda Novak, chairman of Uttoxeter Cycling Club, said he does not think it will stop townsfolk getting back on their bikes.
He said: “It is very sad that such a prestige event has been diverted from us. We will surely query this diversion and will try to find out what can be done to bring the Tour of Briton back in Uttoxeter.
“I would however note I do not feel it has a real impact on people getting back on their bikes. Such a ride is well known and broadcasted so any Britain’s success makes locals get into cycling despite it is done elsewhere. A good example is Chris Froome’s Tour de France success.
“I believe firstly it is our clubs welcoming attitude and reputation and secondly it is our local environment, roads and local policies which contribute the most to make people happy to ride.
“The first part is up to the club and I would proudly say in that sense we are doing very well. The second part is up to the local council and local companies really.
“Improving roads to account for cyclists and companies’ incentives supporting daily commuters would help. Here as an example I would mention the road between Uttoxeter and Rocester which gets narrower towards Rocester.
“Such a funnel is a detriment for many riders who I know they would be happy to commute on that road to JCB. I am, however, aware there has been development elsewhere which is intended to improve the local infrastructure accounting for cyclists.
“I think we have to commence a communication with the local council so as to work together as we have common goals. Getting some club members trained and qualified in for instance coaching would help so as to cover for example our youths.
“This might take us some time to cover all the expenses from membership fees and from sponsors.
“I believe the local government could help as well but we shall see. We are a ‘young’ club and we are aware there is a long way for us to go, but I think we have done well so far and we wont let the Tour of Britain diversion affect our development.”
Uttoxeter’s MP Andrew Griffiths and mayor Hugh Montgomery have said it will be a shame for the town not to see the spectacle once again take to the streets.
Mr Griffiths said: “I think that it is a huge shame and a missed opportunity for the Tour of Britain.
“Over recent years the town has really embraced the race and given it great support. I know the sports fans will miss the spectacle visiting the town.
“I also think there is a lot of interest in cycling at the moment due to the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome and it is waste of a chance to get more people cycling and fit and healthy as a result.”
“It is a great shame but I understand that they need to change the route,” added Councillor Montgomery.
“It is just one of those things. It is nice for the kids to go and watch and does a lot of good for British cycling and cycling in Uttoxeter but I understand it has to go a different route.”