One of the world’s most famous competitions and biggest free-to-view events in Britain is set to come to Hampshire, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Organisers of the Tour of Britain have confirmed they are bidding to route the race through the county because of its iconic landscapes, towns and cities.
Superstar cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins and Dani King could be among the big names battling it out through our roads and lanes.
This will be the second time the tour – the biggest free-to-view event in the UK – has visited the county.
Speaking to the Daily Echo, Olympic champion Dani said: “I think it would be a really cool idea.
“I would absolutely love there to be a stage here.
“And it would be great if went near my home in Hamble.
“I spent all my life here, it was where I grew up and I had my first cycling races on roads around there.”
The race last passed through in 2007, with a stage from Reading to Southampton’s Hogland Park drawing thousands of spectators along its 87-mile route.
It travelled via Pamber Heath to Whitehill before heading to Stockbridge and then following the River Test to Kimbridge and into the New Forest before heading to Southampton.
The sport is currently riding high following Sir Bradley and Dani’s stellar success in the London 2012 Olympics and the number of people taking up the sport is booming. SweetSpot Group, who organise what is the UK’s premier race, say the county offers the ‘helicopter views’ that are part and parcel of the nationwide cycling tour.
Spokesman Peter Hodge said: “Talks are ongoing at the moment.
“We would love to return to Hampshire because we had such great support last time – so a return visit has been long overdue.”
Mr Hodge said the exact route has not been finalised but could include Southampton and the New Forest.
Tory recreation and heritage chief Keith Chapman said he was backing the race.
He said: “I would encourage anything to do with supporting and highlighting the benefits of exercise, so the fact the Tour of Britain want to come to Hampshire is fantastic.”
But Barry Kitcher, who co-ordinates Hampshire 2012, part of a scheme to promote sport following the London Olympics, warned councillors that the county council had to devise plans to cope with growing numbers of mass cycling events if the tour was to come to the county.
He said: “It’s an offer we cannot refuse but we need to get our act together on our cycling strategy.”
This follows controversy surrounding the impact of mass cycling events on local people.
Last month organisers of the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive launched a crackdown after riders ignored the toilets provided and relieved themselves in front of villagers. The race has been repeatedly targeted by saboteurs.
FAR LEFT: Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
LEFT: Olympic champion Dani King from Hamble.