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Tour of Britain put Westcountry on map for a million viewers

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

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Almost one million viewers per day tuned in to watch Westcountry cyclist Jonathan Tiernan Locke win the Tour of Britain, which wound through some of Devon's finest landscapes.

The eight-day event attracted its largest TV audience ever, bringing huge benefits both to the sport and to tourism on day seven's route on a sunny day on September 15.

The route stretched between Barnstaple and Dartmouth, via Dartmoor, which was the backdrop to some of the most thrilling and challenging sections of the race.

Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the figures were "really good news" for the Westcountry.

"These viewers will have seen Devon at its finest, and surely we can only reap the benefits of that, not only in terms of cyclists coming to experience our trails, but also in attracting people to come down on holiday."

This year's tour was the first ever to be screened live on ITV4, with the channel showing 16 hours of live action, drawing an average of 382,000 viewers across the eight days of the race, as Plymouth's Jonathan Tiernan Locke became the first home winner of a Tour of Britain since 1989.

Nigel Way, chairman of the Tourist Information Centre in Dartmouth, where thousands gathered to watch the riders cross the finish line, said the benefits would help outweigh a rainy summer, as images of the county bathed in sunshine were broadcast around the world.

"We know that any television exposure has a very profound effect on tourism, and this is both worldwide and ongoing. That exposure will carry on for the next six to eight months."

In a year of unprecedented British sporting success, the Tour of Britain was no exception, with world champion Mark Cavendish winning three stages and British teams and riders winning three of four available competitions within the race.

Mirroring the nationwide growth of interest in cycling, daily audiences for the tour's one-hour highlights programmes were up just over 12 per cent from 2011, attracting an average reach of 526,000 viewers per evening on ITV4.

Alastair Grant, commercial director of organisers SweetSpot Group, said: "Live television brought a new dimension to the 2012 Tour of Britain."

Coverage was also broadcast to more than 130 countries across the world.

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