Des Allen with the sheep, in Coddington
Des Allen with the sheep, in Coddington

A farmer whose sheep formed the shape of a giant bicycle as Tour of Britain helicopters flew overhead has revealed the secret behind the stunt.

Mr Des Allen, a farmer from Coddington, put together the display involving around 350 Mule sheep at a farm run by Mr Neil Kirton and Mr John Kirton.

The spectacular sight proved to be one of the highlights of the 165km fourth stage, from Mansfield to Newark.

Mr Allen, who has kept sheep since 1992, said: “Andy Guy, who is the NFU’s county adviser, thought it would be a good idea to get the animals into the shape of a bike.

“I said it would be easy to do – because those sheep will do anything for something to eat.

“We marked out what we thought was the shape of a bike and then tried to get the timing right for when the tour came over.

“We fed the sheep mainly things that we grow on the farm like barley and wheat – and they were hungry.”

Mr Allen, who has pigs at his farm in Drove Lane, Coddington, said the tour was a productive exercise in showing off the district to viewers on television across the country and further afield.

“Farmers are the custodians of most of the landscape here, so it made sense for us to do something for the tour,” he said.

“The tour is tremendous and it really promotes the area.”

Mr Neil Kirton said he was surprised to find out about the sheep stunt.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I saw it on the TV,” he said.

“I watched it while at The Plough pub. I was amazed to see it.”

Mr Andy Guy, said: “We wanted farming to be involved in the Tour of Britain and scratched our heads about what would work.

“September is an incredibly busy time of year for farmers, but we’ve persuaded some of them to join in and show our industry’s support for the cycle race.

“Des knew he could train the sheep to follow him – they’re notoriously fond of sheep nuts and will do most things for a nibble.”