A £7.6 MILLION cycle route launching in 2013 will open up a mini Tour de France – and Angleterre – on Poole’s doorstep.

Thanks to European funding, budding Sir Chris Hoys will be able to saddle up, explore the county and then hop on a ferry to pedal around Brittany and Normandy.

Two of the 1,110mile Cycle West routes – taking in 600 or 240 miles of countryside – involve crossings between Cherbourg and Poole.

Dorset County council (DCC) is backing the project, which it is hoped will create a boom in business at B&Bs, restaurants, cafes and campsites on both sides of the Channel.

DCC’s Adam Bows has £270,000 to spend on improving current cycleways, filling in the gaps and setting up cycle parking at key attractions.

Mr Bows said: “This is a good opportunity for the county to diversify and appeal to holidaymakers that don’t necessarily want a ‘bucket and spade’ holiday or a quiet weekend in the country.

“The county already receives 1.5 million tourists a year and many local jobs depend upon the money they spend – and we know that in Europe and in other parts of the UK, where cycling tourism is more developed, cyclists spend more per head than the average visitor.”

Leaving from Poole, cyclists can choose the longer Tour de Manche, looping Roscoff, Mont Saint Michel, Cherbourg, Poole, Dorchester, Torbay and Plymouth.

On this circuit, they will pass through the Bay of Morlaix, the Pink Granite Coast, the Bay of Mont Saint Michel and of course the UNESCO Jurassic Coast.

For the less ambitious, the Petit Tour de Manche takes travellers around St Malo, Mont Saint Michel, Cherbourg, Poole, Dorchester, Weymouth and Jersey.

Or people can simply take advantage of the legs closer to home, including Poole Harbour, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Corfe Castle and Chesil Beach, or take a trip into Devon. Visit cycle-west.com