All but two of the stage towns in England and Scotland have been announced for September’s Tour of Britain, with two further stages taking place entirely in Wales still to be announced, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.
The race is scheduled to return after last year’s cancellation due to the coronavirus crisis, and details of the opening two stages in Devon and Cornwall, as well as the closing stage, have previously been announced.
Starting in Penzance and finishing in Aberdeen – just over 500 miles apart as the crow flies, with the race making its debut in both Cornwall and northeast Scotland – seven towns or cities, indicated with an asterisk in the itinerary below, will be hosting the race for the first time.
Besides the start and finish locations on the Welsh stages, the starting points of two of the stages in England, in South Cheshire and Cumbria, are also still to be revealed.
Stage One, Sunday 5 September
Penzance* to Bodmin*
Stage Two, Monday 6 September
Sherford to Exeter
Stage Three, Tuesday 7 September
Stage Four, Wednesday 8 September
Stage Five, Thursday 9 September
South Cheshire to Warrington*
Stage Six, Friday 10 September
Cumbria to Gateshead
Stage Seven, Saturday 11 September
Hawick* to Edinburgh
Stage Eight, Sunday 12 September
Stonehaven* to Aberdeen
This year’s race marks the first time that the event, relaunched in 2004 after a five-year absence, will have featured in the UCI ProSeries, and full routes of all stages plus participating teams will be revealed over the summer, as well as details of the Welsh stages assuming they can go ahead. Once again, it will be broadcast live on ITV.
Given the country’s terrain and the southwest to northeast route of the race across Great Britain, our expectation would be for a couple of tough stages with plenty of climbing, with the finish of the first of the two and the start of the second taking place in Mid-Wales, perhaps.
Those would follow two stages in southwest England that promise a difficult uphill finish in Bodmin, and a tough finale across Dartmoor to Exeter.
The other two English stages will see a finish outside Warrington’s Golden Gates, followed by a day of climbing across the Pennines from Cumbria to Gateshead – potentially, a decisive day for the overall.
In the north west of England Stage Five (Thursday 9 September) will start in south Cheshire, a day of racing that culminates in Warrington, which will make its event debut as a host venue, for a finish outside the town’s famous Golden Gates.
Once over the border into Scotland, Edinburgh will host its first-ever stage finish – locals might be hoping for a finale including the cobbled sweep of Victoria Street up towards the Royal Mile – before the final stage, which sees the race end in the country for the first time since Romain Feillu sealed his overall win in Glasgow in 2007.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of race organisers SweetSpot, said: "We are excited to reveal more details of this year’s Tour of Britain and what is truly an epic route – one that will take us from the furthest tip of south west England, through Wales, and eventually finishing at one of the furthest points of north east Scotland.
“We want to make September not just about the world-class racing and superstar riders but also through our campaign, Ride for Heroes, to ensure it is a celebration of ‘all things British’ and make it an occasion for ourselves and British Cycling to thank all those who have worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure our wellbeing and safety.
“The SweetSpot team are determined that not only will there be great racing to enjoy but the Tour of Britain will also be way by which communities across the country can come together and show their appreciation for our COVID heroes over the past 12 months.”
SweetSpot says it is working closely with the UCI and British Cycling as well as stakeholders in England, Wales and Scotland to monitor the public health situation and ensure that any requirements in September for outdoor sports events are met so that the event can take place safely.
British Cycling’s head of sport and major events, Jonathan Day, commented: “Though
the Tour of Britain as we know and love it today has evolved since its reincarnation in 2004, the foundations of the race have remained true – challenging and exciting routes, a peloton brimming with the world’s best teams and riders, and brilliant crowds.
“We pride ourselves on the Tour of Britain being the biggest and most prestigious cycle race in the UK. As we look ahead to its return after postponement in 2020 we’re sure that the riders on show – who will be going shoulder to shoulder from Cornwall to Aberdeen over eight days – will make this latest edition one of the most spectacular yet.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.