Cornwall’s day in the cycling spotlight – plans for the largest-ever free sports event

On Sunday 5 September 2021 Cornwall is hosting – for the first time – the curtain-raiser to the annual international cycling race, the Tour of Britain. The ‘Grand Depart’ will take place in Penzance at 11 am, and throughout the day cyclists will battle to be first across the winning line as the first stage winds through 111 miles of Cornwall, ending in Bodmin on Sunday afternoon.

The race then continues for a further seven stages through Devon, Wales, Cheshire and Cumbria, on to Edinburgh, finishing in Aberdeen on 12 September.

The annual Tour of Britain is the UK’s leading professional multi-stage cycling race and the biggest free to watch spectator event in the country. It is televised live on ITV4 and Eurosport to at least 500,000 viewers, and also covered nationally on BBC Radio 5 Live and by local broadcasters.

It is the most prestigious road race cycling event in the UK, and has the potential to draw a large number of visitors and spectators, bringing a considerable economic boost to Cornwall and increased overnight stays.

Cornwall Council has explained how it plans to capitalise on this opportunity, but also maximise safety and minimise disruption. The Council is working in partnership with the race organisers SweetSpot, British Cycling, and Penzance and Bodmin Town Councils, in particular on vital aspects including public health, traffic management, and liaison with Town and Parish Councils representing the many communities through which this first stage passes.

Stephen Rushworth, Cabinet Member for the Economy, said: “The Tour of Britain race will be a great shop window for Cornwall, showcasing our dedication to carbon-free transport and a greener future, our world class cycling facilities, and ability to host major events. Unlike the G7 summit this event is spread countywide, it is all outdoors, and focused on just one day. Live TV and radio coverage, and aerial photography, will draw a worldwide audience, and the race itself will be an exciting spectacle.”

Cormac Solutions Ltd with Cornwall Council Highway Authority have produced a Traffic Management Plan for the event which includes a Route Plan Overview, Town Plans, Route Traffic Management Measures, Parking on route and other parking provision, Public Transport, Communication Plans and Signage.

Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall’s blue light emergency services and Public Health experts have been involved in all planning related to public safety. The race now has a specially appointed Covid officer, Rachel Oaten, with a background in acute care in the south west, as well as cycling event experience including the Tour Series and RideLondon.

Philip Desmonde, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Making this event safe for spectators and participants is paramount, but our traffic management plan has also been designed to minimise disruption to residents and other traffic, particularly public and commercial transport. The race day is a Sunday with the advantage of reduced traffic flow, but nonetheless we understand that residents and businesses will need advice on what happens if the race is passing their front doors.”

“The race route has been carefully chosen to avoid any trunk roads such as the dual carriageway A30, or Cornwall’s other main arteries. This will help keep commercial traffic and public transport flowing. And most of the course will experience a quick and efficient ‘rolling road closure’ which means only a temporary halt to traffic.”

See how a rolling road closure works in this video.

Here is some advice on how to get the best view:

    • Firstly, we encourage spectators to use existing off-highway cycle routes, especially at the busy start and finish locations of Penzance (from Marazion) and Bodmin (using the Camel trail). Why not make this a family cycling day out if you can?
    • For cars, there will be a special event Park and Ride service for the finish at Bodmin next to the Rugby Club (just off the A30). And there are the usual summer season Park and Ride facilities for Newquay and Falmouth along with the permanent Truro Park and Ride service.
    • In areas where public parking is allowed, car parking spaces will be available on a first come, first served basis. We therefore advise arriving at your chosen location early or using public transport where available.
    • However, where current traffic and parking arrangements could become a risk to the safety of spectators and riders, on-street parking restrictions will be put in place. You may be asked to move your car if you use on-street parking near where the race passes. This is part of a sequence of no stopping areas or ‘clearways’, as shown in the attached information. Alternative parking is being considered in some areas and information on this will be provided ahead of the event. Here are the current maps and a working document.
    • For both the Start and Finish those with special needs will have easy access to the route. Reasonable attempts will be made for those with access needs, and areas allocated to give wheelchair users an unobstructed view of the race as it passes by.
    • In Penzance and Bodmin there will be giant TV screens so everyone can follow the action. Live TV and radio coverage and aerial photography will draw a worldwide audience.
    • As much as possible we will provide information on what time of day to expect the rolling road closure to be occurring near you. this working document gives you a preview of this.
    • There is advice for spectators, residents and motorists, and a list of helpful questions and answers.

Check the Tour of Britain route and begin planning how you and your family can best enjoy this unique sporting event.