History will be made in Dacorum tomorrow as the borough welcomes some of the planet’s top cyclists when the Tour of Britain pedals to town.
It will be the first time the town has bid to host a stage of the event, which is the country’s largest cycle race and also the biggest free-to-spectate sporting event held in the United Kingdom.
The race began on Sunday in Liverpool and finishes this Sunday in London.
The sixth stage, beginning in Bath on Friday morning, is expected to wheel into the borough through Berkhamsted in the afternoon, following a route through Potten End and finishing alongside Hemel Hempstead’s Gadebridge Park between 3pm and 4pm.
The borough itself will get a starring role in the spectacle with live coverage on ITV4 – and all the action will be shown from giant screens erected in the park.
At just over 200 kilometres, the stage will be one of the longest of this year’s Tour, with several testing climbs taken on by the 120 cyclists.
The cyclists – which include top British names Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish –will be travelling at speeds of around 45mph on the straight, and it is estimated that it will take them only 20 minutes to reach the finish from Berkhamsted.
Cycle sprinter Cavendish, who is considered to be the fastest road cyclist in the world, told the Tour website: “I’m racing this week because this is my national Tour, Britain’s big race, and I always want to support it when I can.”
Police convoys will lead the sportsmen through Dacorum during the race.
This will lead to rolling road closures and lack of access to main roads including the Leighton Buzzard Road in Hemel Hempstead, which will be closed from 8pm on Thursday, September 11 to 6am on Saturday, September 13.
The closure will affect the stretch of the road between the roundabout between the Link Road and Galley Hill, and the roundabout linking Queensway and Warners End Road.
The rolling road closures will take place from 2pm to 4pm and will last around 30 minutes each. Diversions will be signposted and drivers are advised to plan their journeys in advance to avoid the disruption.
Additionally, the main Gadebridge Park car park, off Leighton Buzzard Road, will be closed from Wednesday evening until late on Friday September, though parking will be available in Marchmont Fields, the Water Gardens and town centre shopping centres Marlowes and Riverside.
Even for those not interested in cycling, the Tour’s trip through Dacorum has provided a host of opportunities.
Borough-based businesses have been given the chance to purchase invaluable sponsorship packages, giving their names nationwide coverage as cyclists zoom by.
Also lining the route will be more than 300 metres of bunting created by knitters from the area, who’ve been busy making hundreds of mini cycle jerseys out of wool. It is expected the bunting will be auctioned off for charity after the race.
The day is hoped to be full of fun for all ages with a craft and trade fair in the park, which will also feature a stall by the Gadebridge Splash Park campaign group who will be selling wristbands and hosting a fundraising raffle.
There will also be a range of organised cycling activities for anyone who gets the biking bug, as well as a children’s funfair and an array of food and drink.
If you’re unable to make it on the day, catch the sights of Dacorum live on TV.