A group of North Devon farmers from South Molton have won the first ever National Land Art competition to be held during the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, the UK’s most prestigious cycle race.

The giant work of art, stretching more than 45 metres in width, featured alongside the route of Stage Two of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in September and comprised 19 tractors, 16 all-terrain vehicles, a 13-tonne excavator and one slurry tanker wrapped in plastic.

Over 50 entries from across the eight stages were received but judges, including OVO Energy Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett, were struck by both the size and complexity of the South Molton installation, which featured moving wheels, pedals and a chain.

The winners

Winners: Sing Contracting, South Molton Farmers and the NFU, Devon, Stage Two

The South Molton artwork was the brainchild of farmer and contractor Alun Sing and NFU South Molton chairman Adam Westaway, who built it with support from local farmers, South Molton Vintage Rally Club, agricultural dealerships and the YFC.

Alun Sing from Sing Contracting said: “I can’t believe we have won this, there was stiff competition from the other amazing 2018 Tour of Britain art forms.  Without the fantastic support and help from my farming friends, family and customers and the initial idea from the NFU it would not have happened.”

The tractors and quads were piloted by volunteer drivers who drove round in circles for an hour and a half, and were all in perfect sync as the Tour of Britain peloton raced by during the stage from Cranbrook to Barnstaple.

As well as showcasing the community efforts in North Devon to welcome the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, the work of art is helping to raise money for Devon Air Ambulance, with hundreds of pounds already raised via donations to the South Molton NFU or via the air ambulance website www.daat.org.

The runners-up

Runner-up one: Children of Brookside, Teresa Parr and Lucy Waterfield, Nottinghamshire (Stage Seven)

Runner-up two: John and Cathy Charles-Jones, Nottinghamshire (Stage Seven)

Runner-up three: Carmarthenshire Young Farmers, Carmarthenshire (Stage One)

The reaction

“The response to our first National Land Art competition was quite something,” said Race Director Mick Bennett, who presented the South Molton farmers with their trophy.

“Everybody who saw the South Molton artwork was impressed not just by the scale, but also the complexity and coordination of the movements.  I have seen many bicycles created for races, but never before one that moves in so many ways. It clearly took a lot of planning and organisation. 

 “We hope that seeing what can be achieved inspires even more communities to take up the challenge next September.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management said: “I was thrilled with the number of Devon communities that were inspired to get involved in the Tour of Britain this year.

“From start to finish the route was lined with crowds displaying painted bikes, banners, people offering cream teas and some fantastic land art.

“The town of South Molton really took the event to heart and their efforts are justly rewarded by winning this fantastic competition. The number of people who took part and the creativity needed to produce such a great piece of land art was hugely impressive.”

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain National Land Art Competition will return for the race’s 2019 edition, which takes place between Sunday 8 – Sunday 15 September.