Gone but not forgotten
PUBLISHED: 17:46 09 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 August 2010
CYCLING clubs and shops continue to benefit from the Tour de France a year after the famous race came through the heart of north Kent. Held on July 8 last year, thousands of residents watched the spectacular race and procession as it passed through Grave
CYCLING clubs and shops continue to benefit from the Tour de France a year after the famous race came through the heart of north Kent.
Held on July 8 last year, thousands of residents watched the spectacular race and procession as it passed through Gravesend town centre.
Stage 1 of the route ran from London, through Dartford, Gravesend and Northfleet before finishing in Canterbury.
Research carried out by the Kent Tourism board in the months after the event showed that 60 per cent of cycle business in the county had benefited and a year on the benefits remain.
Adam Walsh, 30, manager at Tri the Bike Shop, Windmill Street, Gravesend, said: "I'd like to see it here every day of the week.
"Interest in cycling is generally growing anyway but the Tour de France coming here certainly hasn't done any harm. I'm not sure how much sales have gone up but there's definitely more interest in cycling.
"Road cycling is getting more popular now. It used to be considered the geekier side of the sport done by lycra clad freaks but that's changing now."
For Team Darenth, a youth cycling club formed seven years ago, the race has had a similar effect.
The club meet every Saturday at Wilmington Enterprise College with riders coming from across Gravesend and Dartford.
General secretary Ray Harrad, 72, says the race has had a positive impact on the number of youngsters joining the club.
He said: "Membership has definitely gone up and so has general enthusiasm from the public and the Tour de France has definitely helped that. It gave the area a big boost."
Despite the increase in members Mr Harrad says that the development of the sport is still held back by lack of cycling facilities in the area.
He added: "What cycling really needs is more proper facilities. Hopefully the council will build a cycling track on the disused land that has been freed up by the relocation of the A2.
"I don't know if it will go ahead but there's definitely a lot of enthusiasm for it."
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