SADDLEWORTH is gearing up to welcome thousands of spectators in true Yorkshire style when the 2019 Ovo Tour of Britain cycle race passes through the area in September.
It will be the first time a professional road cycling event has passed through the area since the Milk Race about 30 years ago
Five-time Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is a former winner of the iconic 1,250 kilometre race which is taking place this year from September 7-14.
The eighth and final leg of the Tour is a 165 kilometre circuit of all Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs including Oldham and Tameside on September 14.
Entering Saddleworth from Mossley by The Royal George pub at Greenfield, the route travels into Uppermill via Well-i-hole and then on to Delph.
There is one of the day’s toughest climbs as riders will tackle Grains Road for a King of the Mountains challenge before heading to Rochdale via Buckstones Road.
With the UCI Road World Championships taking place in Harrogate a week later, many of the top teams including Ineous (ex-Team Sky) will be in attendance.
And the community is already preparing to welcome the cyclists and spectators in fine Yorkshire style for the event.
Saddleworth Parish Council plans to display a large White Rose flag on the Civic Hall and outside the library and erect a ‘Welcome to Saddleworth, Yorkshire’ banner across Oldham Road.
The banners will be making a point to organisers of the Tour of Yorkshire cycling event for declining the chance to bring their own annual race through Saddleworth.
The Civic Hall will be open so the public can use the toilet facilities and enjoy refreshments, as well as take a tour of the building.
And Parish Councillors are encouraging locals to get ‘get on your bike’ to enjoy the benefits of cycling for health and fitness, as well as helping towards environmental issues.
Cllr Richard Darlington said: “Saddleworth is associated with the moors murders so this is a chance for some good publicity for a change and we should make as much of it as we can.”
Cllr Alan Belmore added: “It’s a unique opportunity to get involved and promote the benefits of cycling and also what the Parish Council is doing.”
But Cllr John Hudson complained: “I don’t like cyclists. They are a nuisance. I nearly hit one the other day! I certainly don’t want to be welcoming them to Saddleworth.”
However Cllr Brian Lord responded: “We should be welcoming everyone to Saddleworth and putting as much support and publicity behind this as we can.”
Saddleworth and Lees District Team is encouraging residents and businesses to take to the streets on the day and show support for the cyclists as they pass through from about 11am.
They are encouraging people to find a spot and wave the cyclists by. Flags will be made available or groups can design their own.
And they hope local groups and businesses will decorate their premises and even run their own events or get-togethers to celebrate the occasion.
ITV4 will screen live free-to-air coverage flag-to-flag of each stage, along with a nightly highlights programme of the best of the action.
• Find out more about the Tour online: www.tourofbritain.co.uk