Voice of the paper: Tour of Britain puts Hemel on the map

The Tour of Britain's route through Dacorum
The Tour of Britain's route through Dacorum

Some of you may have heard already, but there’s going to be a few bikes passing through Hemel town centre on Friday and it’s kind of a big deal you know!

For those that aren’t into their cycling, the Tour of Britain is a multi-stage race on British roads to be crowned fastest.

Gazette deputy editor Damien Lucas and Sir Bradley Wiggings (below)

Gazette deputy editor Damien Lucas and Sir Bradley Wiggings (below)

This historic event dates back to the first British stage races held just after the Second World War and will bring some of the world’s finest racers to town as the race starts in Liverpool and stage six of eight finishes right here in good old Hemel Hempstead.

There’s no getting away from it, Hemel has had a rough ride the last couple of years. The town was voted the ‘ugliest’ in the UK, works to the Old Town ran over by seven months, a sinkhole forced more than a dozen residents out of their homes, supermarket giant Morrisons pulled out of a £25million investment in the public service quarter and even the Minister for Europe said he ‘hates’ the town. The black day of Buncefield also still looms large in people’s minds when they think of Hemel.

But things ARE on the up for our town. Millions of pounds in funding was secured over the summer to improve the town, the Old Town is looking good now those works have been completed, our football team was promoted to the Conference South, we are very much a business hub and on Friday the name Hemel will be synonymous across the country with the Tour of Britain.

A Sir in the shape of Olympic gold medallist and Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins will be pedalling in with other famous names like Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel also among the lineup. And to add to the prestige, Wiggins has declared his intentions to retain the Tour of Britain crown he won last year and ‘re-establish his world hour record’.

He said this week: “From the start of the year it’s always been a goal of mine to race to the Tour of Britain, The race is growing in stature year on year and it’s our chance to go there with a strong team and race in front of home fans to thank them for their support over the season.”

This is a major deal. It is for Wiggins and it is for Hemel. The cameras and eyes of Europe and the world will be on our town on Friday and I have no doubt we will do the competition and occasion justice.