LOCALS are annoyed that Gloucestershire Highways teams have suddenly started repairing potholes on a stretch of road that has been in a poor state “for years” – just in time for a televised cycle race to pass through.
Local resident Steve Jones, who lives in the Lydbrook area, says that potholes that have been left on the stretch of road between Drybrook and Mireystock Crossroads for some time are now miraculously being repaired, with the Women’s Tour - which will be televised globally as one of the biggest annual events in professional cycling - passing through the Forest in early June.
The tour, which is regarded as one of the leading professional women’s stage races in the international calendar, comes to the district on Wednesday, June 8 as part of the first ever Gloucestershire leg of the race.
Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) is sponsoring the race - along with the men’s equivalent ‘Tour of Britain’ which passes through the Cotswolds in September - as part of its commitment to “supporting tourism and active travel”.
Steve says the council’s Highways teams have been out marking and repairing potholes on the Mireystock to Drybrook stretch of the route since last Friday (May 20), conveniently just in time for all 14 of the top-ranked cycling teams in the world to pass through.
He said: “It’s amazing how quickly they can get it done when there’s a reason to!
“The cycle race isn’t going to bring any money into the Forest.
“We’ve been driving over it for months - years even - there are cracks on the side of the road and all sorts.”
A post to the council’s Gloucestershire Roads Facebook page confirmed that works on Drybrook Road on Monday and Tuesday (May 23 and 24) had been “bought forward in preparation” for the race on June 8.
Councillor Dom Morris, cabinet member for highways at GCC, said: “The 2021 Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain were estimated to attract £34 million in economic benefits to the country – this is spread out across many parts of the of the stages, not just the start and finish.
“We feel confident that this will be great for Gloucestershire for the economy, tourism and active travel, and will really showcase the great scenery, environment and market towns that the county and the Forest of Dean has to offer.
“It is accurate to say that some routine road works have been brought forward in preparation for the cycle races but they would have been completed in our annual programme of works and are being brought forward to reflect the risks to the ‘peloton’ with typically around 100 riders travelling in the bunch, at speeds of between 25-30mph and using both sides of the road.
“We do understand this can be frustrating but feel confident that this a very positive opportunity for the county and hope our communities will get behind it.”
The route, which is Stage Three of the race, begins in Tewkesbury and passes through Newent, Mitcheldean, Drybrook and Lydbrook before heading to Coleford, onto Lydney via Bream, to Cinderford via Parkend and Cannop and through Westbury and Minsterworth before finishing up in Gloucester.
The organisers operate a rolling road closure system for the tour, with roads being closed for only “a short window” - around 30 minutes - to minimise disruption.
People are expected to line the streets to see the cyclists - who will be accompanied by a convoy of security and medical support vehicles - pass through en route to Gloucester.
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