"Hardest ever Tour of Britain" to be decided on cobbled climb in Guildford (+ route details + video)

September's race to start in Ipswich, with stages also planned for Scotland and Wales & a tough race promised

by Simon_MacMichael   April 26, 2012  

Tour of Britain route 2012

This September’s Tour of Britain will conclude with a stage in Surreyfrom Reigate to Guildford culminating with the riders battling it out over the cobbled climb of the county town's High Street, leaving the identity of the overall winner in doubt till the last day. Billed as the "hardest yet," this year's final stage will be preceded by three other tough stages, including one in Wales that features a double ascent of Caerphilly Mountain.

Full details of the race will be confirmed at the official launch later on today, but ToB organisers are keen to build on the recent run of exciting finishes to the race by putting together a route which means that the race, which runs from 9-16 September, won't be won until the riders tackle those cobbles in Guildford.

“The route of this year’s Tour is certainly our toughest yet, and to coin a phrase a race of two halves," said race director Mick Bennett, alluding to what seems like a sprinter-friendly opening four days before things start getting tougher from the Stoke-on-Trent stage onwards. 

"I am sure it will make for some spectacular action this September, and look forward to seeing bigger crowds than ever at the roadside in what is British sport’s biggest year,” he added.

Once again, IG Markets will be sponsoring the gold leader's jersey, and the company's managing director Tim Hughes commented: “We were delighted with the success of The Tour of Britain last year. The large crowds at the side of the road showed how cycling has captured the imagination of this country.

"This year’s Tour is huge opportunity as the first major sporting event in this country after the Olympics and Paralympics to capitalise on the nation’s enthusiasm for sport and for cycling.”

Organisers have also released a promo video showing some of the top action from previous editions of the race.

As last year, the race will visit England, Scotland and Wales, with a mixture of stages familiar from previous years, such as the one that starts and finishes in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as a repeat of last year’s Stage 4, from Welshpool to Caerphilly, where then world champion Thor Hushovd took the stage win for Garmin-Cervelo.

Dumfries and Blackpool both feature as stage finish towns for the second year running; Mark Cavendish won the opening stage in Scotland last year, but the stage to the English seaside resort had to be cancelled as a result of high winds caused by Hurricane Katia.

Once again, there are stages also in the South West and in East Anglia.

This year, there’s no stage in London, where Rabobank’s Lars Boom sealed his overall victory last year on a day that saw a time trial won by Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett followed by a road stage that was notable for being Mark Cavendish’s last victory in an HTC-Highroad jersey, in his final race before becoming world champion.

In part that absence of a stage reflects the fact that the capital will only just have emerged from nearly two months of road closures and other disruption as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As usual, the race will see Britain's best domestic teams joined by some of the leading outfits in the sport, with The Daily Telegraph, the Tour of Britain's official media partner, reporting that Sky, Garmin-Barracuda, GreenEdge, Vacansoleil-DCM and Liquigas-Cannondale have already been confirmed as taking part in September.

Last year, the mountain's jersey was won by Jonathon Tiernan-Locke, then with Rapha Condor Sharp and now with one of Britain's other UCI Continental teams, Endura Racing. The Devon cyclist hit the headlines earlier this season with high-profile wins in the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Tour du Haut Var.

The Telegraph speculates that should he repeat that form, Tiernan-Locke could not only become the first home rider to win the Tour of Britain since the race was revived in 2004, but could also potentially secure a slot as a protected rider the following week in the Great Britain line-up in the World Championship road race in the Netherlands. What a story that would be.

Details of each stage are shown below together with comments from the organisers.

Stage 1
Sunday 9 September
Ipswich to Norfolk Showground 199.6km

The Tour of Britain begins in East Anglia for the first time, with Ipswich hosting the Grand Depart on Sunday 9th September.  Stage One takes The Tour through Suffolk and Norfolk to the finish on the Norfolk Showground outside of Norwich.

Stage 2
Monday 10 September
Nottingham to Knowsley 177.8km

Stage Two looks to be another for the sprinters, starting from Nottingham Castle and heading across the Peak District National Park to Knowsley on Merseyside for what will be a memorable stage finish at Knowsley Safari Park alongside the elephant enclosure!

Stage 3
Tuesday 11 September
Jedburgh to Dumfries 161.4km

Scotland hosts Stage Three of The Tour on Tuesday 11th September, travelling from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders to Dumfries, where riders will tackle three circuits of a finish loop in the Dumfries & Galloway countryside.

Stage 4
Wednesday 12 September
Carlisle to Blackpool 156km

A short hop over the Border sees The Tour of Britain return to Carlisle for the first time since 2005 for the start of Stage Four.  156 kilometres of Cumbrian and Lancastrian roads await, taking the leg through Kendal on its way to a Blackpool Promenade finish in the shadow of Blackpool Tower.

Stage 5
Thursday 13 September
The Stoke-on-Trent Stage 146.9km

Over 2,000 metres of climbing await riders in The Tour on Stage Five, starting from Stoke-on-Trent’s Trentham Estate and finishing once again in the City Centre, on the way tackling Cannock Chase, the Staffordshire Moorlands and Gun Hill.

Stage 6
Friday 14 September
Welshpool to Caerphilly 189.8km

There’ll be no respite on Stage Six on Friday 14th September as riders return to the National Trust’s Powis Castle in Welshpool for a long stage down through mid-Wales to Caerphilly, where riders will tackle the fearsome Caerphilly Mountain twice before the finish outside the world-famous Caerphilly Castle.

Stage 7
Saturday 15 September
Barnstaple to Dartmouth 170.7km

Devon will be The Tour of Britain’s penultimate stage in 2012, with a cross-county stage heading from Barnstaple on the county’s north coast to Dartmouth on the south coast via Dartmoor.  With barely a metre of flat throughout the 170 kilometres the Devon stage is set once again to be decisive in the battle for the ŠKODA King of the Mountains Jersey, as well as the overall battle.

Stage 8
Sunday 16 September
Reigate to Guildford 147.7km

Surrey’s final leg will see riders head from Reigate, through the finish line in Guildford and out onto the Surrey Hills.  With the final climb of the 2012 Tour coming in the last 25 kilometres of racing, plus the uphill, cobbled drag to the finish line, spectators can expect the destination of the IG Markets Gold Jersey to remain undecided until the end.

21 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Hmph. I was getting quite used to London finishes.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
26th April 2012 - 9:10

4 Likes

Sounds interesting. Might just have to pop along to the finish then!

posted by Super Domestique [1643 posts]
26th April 2012 - 9:13

6 Likes

No north east stage again.....rubbish

posted by dannycrap [5 posts]
26th April 2012 - 10:15

4 Likes

Hmmm, gutted there's no stage near me, last year up Cheddar Gorge with a finish in Wells was perfect, I caught the race twice and really enjoyed myself. This year the closest is Caerphilly or Dartmouth, neither of which are particularly close. Shame.

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
26th April 2012 - 10:16

4 Likes

Excellent. Although I'm based up in London now, Barnstaple is my home town. Our team also follows that route in our very own Tour deVon, which we hold annually.

Can't wait to go back for this stage.

posted by simonpilk [1 posts]
26th April 2012 - 10:33

3 Likes

Finish in Guildford. Brilliant!!!!!!

posted by cchead77 [8 posts]
26th April 2012 - 11:05

5 Likes

Think yourself lucky as closet stage to me is 200 miles away and a 3 hr drive there and back

posted by Nevetsyarg [71 posts]
26th April 2012 - 11:22

4 Likes

Shame the start clashes with the finish of la Vuelta on the 9th Sept in Madrid. Wonder who Sky will choose to race in Britain?

Stoke, Knowlsey, Blackpool, Whelshpool...too many to choose Big Grin

cycle more, work less!

posted by trek7000 [46 posts]
26th April 2012 - 11:47

5 Likes

another major event on my doorstep - perfect

Alg

posted by alg [132 posts]
26th April 2012 - 11:50

7 Likes

Ill make my way to Ipswich for Grand Depart.

Sky'll probs race Geraint, as he's 'snubbing' the Tour
Dowsett, because he's wicked.
Swift?
Luke Rowe?
Jeremy Hunt?
Peter Kennaugh?
Apollonio will probably go, and so will either Lofkvist or Boassen Hagen, depending on who's and who's not at the vuelta.

Endura to do well here, Yanto Barker for UK Youth as well

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
26th April 2012 - 12:45

5 Likes

I'm quite looking forward to it. I went to Blackpool last year which was a complete disaster.

This year I'll get to see the ride across to knowsley and the finish in Blackpool. AWESOME STUFF!

Makes up for the crit series which doesn't have a NW venue

posted by fungus the muff... [32 posts]
26th April 2012 - 14:21

0 Likes

Not a bad cycling summer in Surrey then;

Tour Series in Woking
Guildford Town Centre road races
Olympics road races around Boxhill and various villages
Finish to the Tour of Britain in Guildford

That'll do.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [628 posts]
26th April 2012 - 15:49

2 Likes

You get most of the Olympic TTs too. Plus the chance to see the pros checking out the routes, imagine it will be busy down there in the week between the TDF and Olympics.

At least we have the Tour Series in Oxford Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8422 posts]
26th April 2012 - 16:03

3 Likes

Finish in Guildford approved! Big Grin Now to get the day off work! Thinking

posted by carlgrz [51 posts]
26th April 2012 - 18:41

5 Likes

One stage (Barnstaple)starts just up the road from me,I am not working that day; and I have raced up the cobbled High Street in Guildford....happy days!

posted by SideBurn [866 posts]
27th April 2012 - 10:29

2 Likes

They still live their flat finishes in the TOB, don't they. Luckily the last two years the guys have driven it hard so it's been entertaining. Could turn out a bit formulaic at worst but it's growing well as a race.

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [79 posts]
27th April 2012 - 20:47

6 Likes

Money dominates the route. Britain has some great climbs in the north peaks/lakes/scotland and north wales which are more challenging than the bile on this route. But stoke, blackpool, wales and devon pay for the race every year, so it's average...

posted by robfarrington [8 posts]
28th April 2012 - 17:30

4 Likes

Well, there's few stage races that don't help make ends meet by charging towns/regions to host stages, but there is another reason why it's difficult to make the route even tougher by incorporating longer and harder climbs, and that's to do with course management and rider safety.

Because unlike some of the big races on the continent, it's impossible to close the roads here for a few hours and instead you're relying on rolling road closures, if you have a climb that blows the field apart you have a very tough job of making sure cars don't get on the route before all the riders are over that climb and for the rest of the stage.

The organisers have to design the route within the realities of racing in the UK, and it certainly does look like the second half of the parcours in particular will encourage attacks from GC riders and should make for an entertaining race.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8422 posts]
28th April 2012 - 18:19

6 Likes

I won't be able to see any of the ToB this year Sad

I'll be cycling around Riccione instead Big Grin

posted by Captain Beaky [32 posts]
30th April 2012 - 7:57

7 Likes

Angry Yeah it's not really justifiable to drive up to jedbrugh on a weekday

hi

posted by cool guy 999 [54 posts]
5th September 2012 - 15:44

4 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Well, there's few stage races that don't help make ends meet by charging towns/regions to host stages, but there is another reason why it's difficult to make the route even tougher by incorporating longer and harder climbs, and that's to do with course management and rider safety.

Because unlike some of the big races on the continent, it's impossible to close the roads here for a few hours and instead you're relying on rolling road closures, if you have a climb that blows the field apart you have a very tough job of making sure cars don't get on the route before all the riders are over that climb and for the rest of the stage.
What a very sensible post! It's not great when all some people can do is criticise - after all we do actaully HAVE a ToB, and the stages look fairly balanced. A race does not need the freakish climbs that we have seen in the last week of the Vuelta to be a decent race. The riders seem to like it as well, as a good preparation for the Worlds, and a well run race with quality hotels and management. About time the "knockers" piped down and worked out a way to make some quality smaller stage races happen in their area, which is what the UK scene is missing.

The organisers have to design the route within the realities of racing in the UK, and it certainly does look like the second half of the parcours in particular will encourage attacks from GC riders and should make for an entertaining race.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
6th September 2012 - 20:38

6 Likes