Cycling / Tour de France: South coast hosts Tour de France festival: Preparations are well-advanced along the route of the two English stages of the world's most famous cycle race. Martin Whitfield reports

THE south of England is preparing this week for a 240-mile street party, dressed up as a cycle race.

More than 1 million people are expected to join in the celebration as the 189 riders of the Tour de France complete two stages of the race in England on Wednesday and Thursday. The sheer scale of the race and its advance cavalcade of 400 advertising and promotion vehicles has necessitated public involvement in a way unique among sporting events.

Months of preparation have warned residents of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire of impending road closures and disruption. A special Act of Parliament was necessary to allow police to close miles of roads for up to three hours.

Brighton, Portsmouth and Dover, the main centres where the tour either starts or finishes have organised week-long celebrations of music, bicycle events and Anglo-French markets. Other towns, such as Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells, Basingstoke and Winchester are also planning special events, while many villages have a carnival atmosphere.

Dover, where the British part of the race begins after the tour comes through the Channel tunnel, expects 50,000 visitors, while Portsmouth, where Thursday's stage begins and ends, believes the race will increase its average number of daily visitors tenfold to more than 100,000.

Schools in many locations will be shut, both because of difficulty of access and to allow children to watch the race after it has been used for months as a basis for geography, language and PE lessons.

'It really is at fever pitch,' Madeline Thomas, a year six form teacher at St Swithuns school, Southsea, said. 'Most of us cannot wait and are looking forward to it very much.'

St Swithuns is one of 74 schools closed in the Portsmouth area as a result of the race. 'We have done map work, languages and sports work. Everything has been fun even before the race has arrived in the city,' Ms Thomas added.

Her class of 11-year-olds is well versed in the different coloured jerseys of the riders, the distances they travel and the speed of the bikes. All the children cycle and half have passed their cycling proficiency test this year. Urban traffic means none cycle to school. David, one of the class, said they would all watch the race, many of them as it passed their front doors.

'I have never seen anything like it before without it being on TV,' he added.

Attracting the tour to Portsmouth and Hampshire is likely to cost the city and county councils more than pounds 500,000 in promotion, a FrF800,000 ( pounds 100,000) fee to the tour organisation and in highway closures and policing. Local authorities in Kent and Sussex face a similar bill for their one day of festivities.

But David Knight, project leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the cost was overwhelmed by the benefits, estimated to be up to pounds 10m of extra spending on the day alone. The volume of free television coverage and promotion associated with the race could not be purchased at any price.

'We have also been trying to say to residents that where else could you go outside your front door and see an event of world stature for free?'

The message seemed to have been getting through. Jeremy Weeks, partnership secretary of Glanvilles, a firm of solicitors which will have access blocked for more than two hours on race day, agreed that the disruption was worthwhile.

'Portsmouth has played second fiddle to Southampton on so many things, but has many, if not more, advantages for business,' he said. 'Something like the Tour de France, is going to get serious coverage.'

James Higgins, 25, owner of Rock and Road, a cycle shop in the city centre open for just five weeks, hoped the race would bring in extra business although he suspected a boom would not last long. 'I don't think I will be inundated with demand for racing bikes,' he said. 'But if the television coverage makes the Government take more notice and really encourages cycling, then it will be good.'

At the Lifeboat Cafe, where the race will pass within yards, the benefits were seen as more direct. 'We took the D-Day celebrations last month as a warm up for this. We had queues out the door and it was like locusts had been through,' Ann Driver, the manager, said. 'And anyway, it's not every day you get all those cyclists in lycra shorts and tight bums.'

(Photograph omitted)

Tour de Kent, page 29

Tour report, page 30

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable