The Great Tour bike ride – a 6,600km circumnavigation of Britain’s coastline on two wheels – begins this weekend.

The Caravan-backed charity event, which is split into 64 stages, starts tomorrow at Seaton in Devon and runs until 4 September. It marks the first running of the gruelling race, whose sponsors include Waitrose and which is set to become an annual event.

In the opening week, the riders - among them Waitrose MD Mark Price - will cover 727km, passing through the likes of Brighton, Margate and Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Caravan hopes the ride will generate up to £100,000 in sponsorship for its benevolent fund, having last year raised a total of £2.28m.

Earlier this week the Caravan Helpline was launched, a 24-hour service offering free advice to retailers that have suffered from trauma at work.

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