BIKE fans will have two chances to catch the nation’s top racers close up, with the Tour of Britain route set to border Herefordshire on consecutive days next week.
Olympic gold medallist and former Tour de France champ Sir Bradley Wiggins will be gunning for his second straight British title, while local interest comes by the way of in-form Hereford-based team NFTO - Not For The Ordinary.
The stages, announced last month, see the riders skirt the county’s Western edge near Brilley before heading south in one of the race’s most gruelling legs, which culminates in a 6km, 500m climb on the outskirts of Abergavenny on Tuesday afternoon.
The ascent, referred to by riders as ‘The Iron Mountain’ is one of the UK’s most-feared climbs and comes at the end of a 180km day that starts in Newtown.
The following day, things don’t get much easier with the teams departing Worcester at 10:45am before heading west to climb the Malverns.
With the route going through Wyche Cutting ¬– just seven miles from Ledbury – the stage will give any cycling enthusiasts in the East of the county a great chance to see the elite riders fly past.
NFTO, in its first year as a fully-professional race team will be looking to make an impact on the Tour, with star rider Adam Blythe coming off the back of stunning victory in the Surrey-London Classic last month - one of the top single-day races in Europe.
The team have been training at altitude on the continent, before returning for to tune up ahead of the Tour, which starts in Liverpool on Sunday.
With the race culminating seven days later in central London, NFTO will be hoping it will once again secure victory for Blythe in the capital.
For more information on the Tour, including maps of each individual stage, visit www.tourofbritain.co.uk .