On Saturday September 13 Horsham will be showcased in Stage 7 of the Tour of Britain – the UK’s largest professional cycling race and biggest free to watch sporting event.
A much-coveted yellow jersey is awarded to the leading rider and Sir Bradley Wiggins is expected to strive to repeat his TOB title following his Olympic and Tour de France triumphs. There will be a big screen and a Spirit FM radio station in the Bishopric, local samba band Bloco du Sol and Horsham’s Boom Tribes playing at vantage points while other combos from the district perform from the bandstand from 11am.
With rolling road closures along the route Albion Way will shut off westbound from the Bishopric lights to the Swan Walk roundabout from 11.30am to 1pm. Lead international support vehicles and camera crews – coverage on ITV4 and British Eurosport – followed by some 120 riders in 20 teams travelling at normal traffic speed, are anticipated in Albion Way at 11.55am, sprinting near the YMCA. With its huge battery of motor cycles the tour will present a major attraction on its first visit. Because other places have welcomed up to 10,000 people, Horsham District Council strongly recommend that spectators get in position well before 11. The marshalled viewing area of Albion Way westbound is nearest to and approached from the town centre. Swan Walk and Piries Place car parks will be closed to vehicle movements between 11.30 and 1pm.
Starting in Liverpool on Sunday September 7 the tour finishes in London on the 14th, the route including Wales and the west before heading south. At 226km Stage 7 is the race’s longest, commencing in Camberley it approaches Horsham from Petworth (where major support activities are planned), Wisborough Green – lead vehicles estimated to arrive at 11.35am – Five Oaks and along the A281, leaving the town via East Street out to Hammer Pond Road, Bucks Head to Haywards Heath before veering east, eventually climbing Ditchling Beacon and finishing in Madeira Avenue, Brighton. For full details of the route and timings see www.tourofbritain.co.uk and click on the route for stage 7.
There will be facilities for visiting cyclists in the forecourt and rear car park of County Hall North and a display of vintage bikes at Horsham Museum. Horsham Cycling will be assisting marshalling on the day, Chairman, Peter Delve telling The District Post: “I was walking through the cobbled Carfax thinking that Horsham would make an excellent centre for a town based bike race, having often seen, with HC cycling friends, the Tour De France in similar environments. So I’m delighted that this year’s TOB is coming through our town centre. With the disappointment of Sir Bradley Wiggins not starting this year’s Tour De France it will be great to see him along with many other top world professionals gracing our roads. Horsham Cycling prides itself on offering cycling for all types of rider and, nearing our 10th anniversary many of our 200 members will be out in their blue and white kit urging on the professionals.” www.horshamcycling.co.uk
Martin Read – Sports Reporter