CYCLISTS can go continental on a new biking route linking the county with Normandy, Brittany and Jersey.

The Petit Tour de Manche is one of three new cycling routes being created as part of a £6.8 million project to link the two nations of France and the UK.

The 265-mile route will take cyclists along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Studland, Corfe Castle , Weymouth and Dorchester .

A total of £270,000 will be spent in the county on improvements to existing cycle routes, completing missing links and installing cycle parking at key attractions.

Peter Finney, Dorset County Council spokesman for highways and transportation, said: “If you really want to discover Dorset’s landscape and get a real feel for the way of life here, the way to do it is on a bike.

“The Petit Tour includes two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Dorset’s and East Devon’s famous Jurassic Coast and the breathtakingly beautiful Mont Saint Michel as well as the historic D-Day landing beaches. “ The council supported the project in the planning and execution of the new routes in Dorset and the rest of the country.

Adam Bows, Cycle West project manager, said: “Anyone can drive through these places but only cycling enables you to really experience the feel of our landscape and soak in the atmosphere of our historic towns and villages.

“Anyone who knows Dorset will tell you that we have some well-kept secrets off the tourist trail.”

In total £6.8 million is being spent developing the new routes and marketing them to cycling tourists.

Mr Bows added: “The investment has been significant, but the return on that investment will make a major difference in the years to come to hundreds of local businesses here in Dorset.

“Typically, a cycling visitor spends around 20 per cent more than one arriving by car.

“Most importantly this is green, sustainable tourism that helps preserve the beautiful landscape we live in.”

Regular ferry services between St Malo, Cherbourg, Poole and Weymouth will provide the links in between.

Alicia Andrews, of Condor Ferries, said: “We are delighted to be an official partner of the Cycle West project, and to introduce cyclists to the stunning destinations that can be reached via our ferries departing from Dorset.”

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