Diss and Eye roll out the red carpet for Tour of Britain

Excitement is building for the start of the penultimate stage of the Tour of Britain, which hits Norfolk and Suffolk's roads at the weekend.

The country's biggest sporting spectator event will return to the region with a 200km race on Saturday that will start in Bury St Edmunds and finish at the Sandringham Estate in west Norfolk.

Communities along the route are staging a host of events to celebrate the Tour and anticipation is building for the race, which will feature a host of well-known riders including Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish.

Last year's Norfolk stage saw an estimated 130,000 people on the streets, which gave a multi-million pound boost to the county's economy.

The riders are set to hit the Norfolk-Suffolk border at about midday on Saturday and the town of Eye is bringing buskers and live bands to the streets to welcome the participants through the town.

There will also be an artisan market in the town hall, a children's competition to design a bicycle for the future and barbecue outside the Queen's Head run by Eye Cub Scouts. There will also be the annual Eye Duck Race on the River Dove at The Pennings after the Tour passes through.

Brett Fraser, one of the Eye event organisers, said there was lots of excitement and interest in the town.

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'The reality is that the roads will be closed for no time whatsoever. We are hoping people will line the streets and we are making a day of it. Eye is sometimes the forgotten town and this is a good opportunity to show people what we have got,' he said.

There will be a host of free activities in Diss Park between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Saturday, including a bouncy castle, face painting, giant games, circus skills and music from the Bloco Rabo De Foguete Brazilian street band Brazilian street band.

The riders will make their way into Diss down Victoria Road, Park Road, Denmark Street and Shelfhanger Road.

Jay Hurley, who is organising the Diss celebrations said there was some apathy towards the Tour.

'The cycling fraternity know about it, but a lot of people see it as an inconvenience. We need to build it up and make it positive and if the roads are closed it will keep people in the town and spending money. We hope lots of people will turn out on the day, but the weather will play a big part,' she said.

Local town and district councillor Keith Kiddie added: 'Diss has done a magnificent job of welcoming the Tour. There will be a carnival atmosphere to match the colourful spectacle of the riders as they come through. I want to congratulate the town council for what they have done, seeing the Tour for what it is, not just a fun day of cycle racing, but an opportunity to showcase our fantastic town.'

The riders will head through Shelfanger, Winfarthing, Bunwell and Spooner Row on their way to Wymondham.

Keith Weeks, South Norfolk Council's tourism champion, added: 'The eyes of the world will be on South Norfolk as camera crews follow the riders. People will see that this is one of the best places to live, work and visit in the country and I want to thank the thousands of residents who we expect to line the route on the day for their fantastic support.'