Tour heroes ride in

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AFTER all the excitement of the Tour de France starting in London two weeks ago, organisers have confirmed this week that Britain's most prestigious cycle race will once again be visiting the local area around Longridge.

This year's Tour of Britain Cycle Race is set to take in some of the north west's most stunning scenery and spectacular views - including a stage passing over Bowland.

The tour will visit this area on Friday, September 14, on the penultimate stage - Stage 5 - of the race, starting from Liverpool and finishing, for the first time, in Kendal.

The route is designed to be one of the most picturesque stages of the 2007 race, as well as one of the most challenging for the riders' tired legs.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has been instrumental in securing the region's position on the Tour of Britain map since its successful re-launch in 2004.

Stage 5 will begin in Liverpool's historic Sefton Park at 10.15am. The riders will then make their way up to Southport before skirting Preston through Leyland and Bamber Bridge.

Crossing the stunning Ribble Valley the cyclists then head for a tough but scenic climb in the beautiful Forest of Bowland.

After lunch you could catch a brief glimpse of the sprint at Hornby, north of Lancaster, before the last section of the route heads into the picturesque South Lakes via Kirkby Lonsdale. With several climbs in quick succession, this will be by far the most gruelling part of the race, before the finish line at Beast Banks in Kendal.

Riders can expect a gruelling 165km route up the west coast. The stage should take the riders just over four hours to complete and they can be expected to ride at an average of over 25 miles an hour, not bad for their sixth consecutive day of racing.

Last year the north west stage of the tour, from Blackpool to Liverpool, attracted 60,000 spectators and passed through rural Wyre.

Peter Mearns, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, said: "England's north west has an enviable record for hosting major sporting and cultural events.

"The Tour of Britain has proved an overwhelming success over the past three years, and this year will be no exception.

"This exhilarating race generates great economic benefits for the region and never fails to attract visitors to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the north west."

To keep up to date with Tour of Britain news and for full details of the route visit www.tourofbritain.co.uk