Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk will give the Aviva Tour of Britain a spectacular welcome next month as Stage Seven of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race sprints down the base’s 2,400-metre runway.

On Saturday 12 September Wattisham – the main operating base for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopter – will welcome up to 120 of the world’s top cyclists who will race onto the base mid-stage from Fakenham to Ipswich.

""The runway will host an intermediate YodelDirect Sprint, sponsored by parcel delivery company Yodel, which will see riders battling for points towards the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey, as well as vital time bonuses to the first three riders. A pair of Apaches will mark the finish line for the sprint.

Colonel Jason Etherington, Commander of Wattisham Flying Station, said: “The Tour of Britain will be a great sporting occasion for Suffolk and a sprint along Wattisham’s runway will provide a unique challenge for the race while reflecting the county’s strong military presence.

“Sport, in all its form, is a central part of Army life. As well as fitness, it teaches soldiers about teamwork, working under pressure and the ability to win with both pride and humility. There are many keen cyclists at Wattisham, who compete at both military and civilian events, and we look forward to watching the professionals in action.”

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Two further YodelDirect Sprints will take place at Fornham St Martin on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds and in Needham Market.

Earlier in the stage riders will also tackle a SKODA King of the Mountains climb near to Hevingham in Norfolk before two further categorised climbs at Barking Tye and Brantham Hill.  The former will see SKODA providing free coffee and cake to spectators, as well as handing out SKODA puncture repair kits to anyone who rides to the Barking Tye climb.

Stage Seven begins from Fakenham Racecourse in Norfolk at 10am, passing through the North Norfolk, Broadland, Norwich, South Norfolk and Breckland Districts before crossing into Suffolk at Thetford.

The stage is due to reach Wattisham Airfield just after 2pm, before a finish on Princes Street in Ipswich shortly after 3pm.

As an operational military airfield, the general public will not be allowed in to Wattisham but the race will be broadcast live on ITV4 and British Eurosport as it passes through.

Cllr Tony Goldson, Cabinet Member for Health at Suffolk County Council, said: “I understand that this is the first time the Tour of Britain has raced through a military base and it should be a fantastic spectacle for the military personnel and their families watching the teams and riders race along the runway. These major cycling events have the ability to engage and inspire communities in ways that no other event can and we have been delighted to be the only County in the UK to attract both the Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain in 2015.

“With a wealth of Olympic and World class riders taking part in the race, I would actively encourage Suffolk’s residents to come out and give them a big welcome as they pass through our towns and villages along the route.”

Stage Seven will be broadcast live on ITV4 with a three hour programme between 1pm and 4pm, plus a one-hour highlights programme will also be shown that evening on the same channel at 8pm. British Eurosport will also show the race in the UK with both live coverage and highlights.  Live coverage and highlights will also be shown worldwide in excess of 120 countries.

The Aviva Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step.

Wattisham Flying Station
Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk is the main operating base for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopters. The Apache entered service with the British Army in 2001 and is flown on operations by 3 and 4 Regiments Army Air Corps. The two units provided a continuous presence in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2014 on rotation and in 2011, Apaches from 656 Sqn, 4 Regt AAC flew strike missions over Libya from HMS Ocean as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. Second line maintenance on operations is provided by 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

All three units are part of 16 Air Assault Brigade – the Army’s rapid reaction force – combining the Apache’s potency with the speed and agility of airborne and air assault forces. The brigade is part of the Joint Helicopter Command, which brings together helicopter forces from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF.

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