Cornwall's involvement as the starting point of next year's Tour of Britain cycle race is by now fully documented - but what is not so well known is that without the efforts of a small group in Helston it may never have become a reality.

The idea of bringing the international cycle race - the UK's equivalent of the Tour de France - to Cornwall was first suggested by then Helston town councillor Dave Potter back in 2017.

He put before his fellow town councillors a motion to lobby Cornwall Council about backing a major cycling event such as the Tour of Britain being brought to the area, pointing out the economic boost it would give.

It was not long after the giant mechanical puppet The Man Engine had completed its tour of Cornwall's during the summer of 2016, witnessed by nearly 150,000 people over ten days.

More than 112 million people had also viewed photos and videos of the spectacle across 104 countries worldwide, and Mr Potter took inspiration from the exposure such an event of national interest could give Cornwall again.

With the backing of Helston Town Council, Mr Potter wrote to all the other town and parish councils in Cornwall, asking for their support in Cornwall hosting a stage of the Tour of Britain in 2020.

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At the same time, two of Helston's Cornwall councillors Mike Thomas and John Martin championed the idea to officers at County Hall, despite having only been elected a few weeks earlier in the local government elections of May 2017.

Mr Thomas recalls: "We were still newbies. We didn't know anything about how to get things done. But we were inspired by David's enthusiasm.

"If it wasn't for what Dave Potter did it wouldn't be here."

Their work included encouraging the council to set up the necessary policies on such events, before taking a step back once the idea was adopted and taken forward.

Falmouth Packet:

Two of Cornwall's elite cyclists join Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council for the Tour of Britain countdown

Mr Potter, however, continued his involvement and went on to be chair of the Cornwall Tour of Britain Stage Working Group, saying last year, when the stage’s provisional route was announced: “I am absolutely delighted to be part of a team that has worked for over two years to bring to Cornwall a stage of the Tour of Britain.

"It is a fantastic opportunity to present to the world the landscape and culture of Cornwall.

“Hosting this premier sporting event also enables the generation of economic activity, promotion of healthy living and cycle tourism in Cornwall. But above all, it will hopefully act as an inspiration to young people that anything is possible and nothing is out of reach.”

In the event the route for the ride will not actually pass through Helston, but throughout the process Mr Potter has made clear that it it was not for self-gain that he was promoting the idea, but for the benefit of Cornwall and cycling.

Falmouth Packet:

A map showing the route for the first stage of the Tour of Britain in Cornwall

The event, which had been due to take place this year but was postponed by 12 months due to the pandemic, will now begin in Cornwall for the first time on Sunday, September 5, 2021 with a 183 kilometre (113.5 mile) opening stage from Penzance to Bodmin.

The route will take in many of the county's rural and coastal landscapes, as well as visiting historic towns including St Just, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne, Pool, Redruth, Falmouth, Penryn, Truro, Newquay and St Austell.

Mr Thomas told the Packet: "When I see the Tour of Britain in the news I'm very keen people know that it was Dave Potter, his enthusiasm, getting it going in Helston that moved it on.

"Helston suggested it and it came out of our town."