IT is less than a month to go before the biggest cycle race in the world comes storming through Essex.

The excitement surrounding the race has been building ever since an announcement was made by the Tour directors last October. Since then schools have been taking part in Tour de France-themed lessons, the roads have been packed with cyclists and all potholes on the route have been filled in.

Great Britain’s rich run of success in cycling has led to an influx of new cyclists taking the road, particularly after Hadleigh Farm hosted the 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking event, and hundreds of thousands are expected to line the streets of Essex to see their heroes and local lads Mark Cavendish and Alex Dowsett, although Chelmsford-born Ian Stannard has been ruled out of the race with injury.

The Women’s Tour graced the north of the county last month, as elite athletes including Laura Trott and Marianne Vos rode through Harwich and Clacton and the Tour de Tendring is an annual attraction for many local cycling enthusiasts.

For those who dont know, the route will travel from Cambridge to London, and pass through Saffron Walden, Finchingfield, Braintree, Chelmsford, Roxwell, Fyfield, before an intermediate sprint in Epping Forest takes the race out of Essex.

Over the next four weeks the Echo will be bringing you a number of exciting features in the run up to stage 3 on Monday, July 7.

We will be analysing the route with the input of local professional riders, give you details on the riders to watch and the best places to see the race in Essex and focus on the British riders taking part, including an extensive interview with Maldon pro Dowsett, who is hoping to line up alongside his Movistar teammates at this summer’s grand départ in Yorkshire.

We will also be providing an online video of the route through Braintree and Chelmsford, with all the key twists and turns highlighted by a local bike store owner and racer.

We hope your enjoy the Echo’s coverage of the Tour de Essex!