Cornish Olympian Wendy starts countdown to flagship tour event
Cornwall-based Olympian Wendy Houvenaghel has launched one of the world's leading cycle events in Somerset.
The Tour of Wessex – the largest multistage sportive cycling challenge – covers more than 330 miles over three days.
Now in its seventh year, the event is said to generate more than £120,000 for the local economy each May.
Cyclist Wendy, who lives in Bodmin and won silver in Beijing, said: "Our sport's profile has never been better so I'm particularly proud to be part of an event that's inspiring people of all ages to hop on a bike and enjoy the freedom and fitness it brings." Starting and finishing each day in Somerton, outside Taunton, the 2012 event attracted more than 2,300 riders from 20 different countries, notching up a total of 211,605 miles between them.
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The competitors take in the beauty of the county, from the stunning Jurassic Coast to the gruelling climbs of Exmoor.
Organiser Nick Bourne says he wanted to make Somerset a year-round road cycling destination, with the tour as its flagship event.
Serious riders will complete all three 100-mile-plus stages but the event also offers medium rides of 73, 83 and 53 miles, from May 25-27.