The 10th anniversary of the re-launched Tour of Britain – which runs September 15-22 – will feature, according to organisers, the ‘hardest ever route’, and with tough double climbs of Caerphilly Mountain and the Tour’s first ever summit finish amongst the highlights it’s easy to see why. The Scottish Borders will host the start with the 201km leg from Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle, with riders finishing almost 1,200km later in London; the longest stage (225km) comes on day two, Carlisle to Kendal, whilst the 16km Individual Time Trial is set for day three at Knowsley Safari Park and the much anticipated summit finish comes on day six atop Haytor in Dartmoor.
The Tour of Britain is the UK’s biggest professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event; after a five-year absence from the calendar it returned in 2004 organised and promoted by sports marketing and events company SweetSpot. Commenting on the 2013 event Hugh Roberts, chief executive of SweetSpot said, ‘This year’s Tour will be an exciting and dynamic route, building on the success of last year’s race and celebrating what has been an incredible ten years of growth for The Tour of Britain and cycling in the UK.’ With ToB race director, Mick Bennett, adding, ‘This will definitely be the most challenging Tour of Britain yet,’ the full schedule is:
Stage 1 (September 15) Peebles – Drumlanrig Castle, 201km
Stage 2 (September 16) Carlisle – Kendal, 225km
Stage 3 (September 17) Knowsley, Individual Time Trial, 16km
Stage 4 (September 18) Stoke-on-Trent – Llanberis, 190.9km
Stage 5 (September 19) Machynlleth – Caerphilly, 177.1km
Stage 6 (September 20) Sidmouth – Haytor, Dartmoor, 137km
Stage 7 (September 21) Epsom – Guildford, 150.4km
Stage 8 (September 22) London, 88km
Another first for this year is the planned one-day women’s race set for London ahead of the final which will take place over the same 8.8km circuit of the capital on which the men will compete. Whilst the final day of the ToB will see a ten-lap circuit the distance for the one-day women’s event is yet to be agreed or made public.
If the action across the eight days of competition looks likely to be thrilling, there are already plenty of machinations behind the scenes with news that the owner/organisers of the Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have officially confirmed an interest in running future editions of the event. ASO organise not only the Tour de France but also a number of other high-profile cycling events including Paris-Roubaix, Critérium du Dauphiné and Vuelta a España; speaking to the BBC the company’s president Jean-Etienne Amaur has finally come close to expressing explicit interest, saying: ‘It’s something we’re looking into right now but I can’t say too much about it… but if we can make it into something even more compelling for TV and spectators then we’d go for it.’
Despite the fact that the ToB has been organised by SweetSpot since its re-launch in 2004, British Cycling announced last year that it would be putting the contract for the Tour out to open tender in order to explore wider options in raising the profile. Speaking at the time British Cycling’s president, Brian Cookson, said he wanted to take a ‘…fresh look’ at how the ToB could better ‘…reflect the current status of our sport in this country.’
If neither SweetSpot nor Amaury did move forward with plans for the ToB another (somewhat outside) option could be ASO’s Italian rivals RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro d’Italia; in any event a decision on who will run the ToB from 2014 onwards is expected to be made before September, ahead of this year’s race.
For further information and all the latest news see thetour.co.uk