Details of all of the Tour of Britain's eight stages for 2016
Starting in Glasgow and ending in London eight days and 1308.5km later, the route seems a far more balanced and rider friendly (read: fewer transfers) than the 2015 race.
That this year’s World Championships, taking place in Doha, Qatar (October 9-16), fall three weeks later than usual means the national tour is a viable option for many of those who will compete in the middle east. Challenging racing, check, sprint finishes aplenty, check.
Five stages of the 2015 race ended in bunch sprints, and this year’s route looks like it will offer at least as many. Given the flat nature of the Worlds course, this year’s Tour of Britain route looks like a direct attempt at getting as many of them to these shores as possible as part of their preparation.
That’s not to say the race is entirely for them: the stage six finish atop Haytor is a repeat of an exciting 2013 stage, which Simon Yates won to cap a year in which he emerged as one of Britain’s most promising talents.
The following day’s split stage around Bristol is an intriguing proposition, even if the format is not universally liked by riders. Bridge Valley Road, the climb that will feature in both the 15-kilometre time trial and circuit race, should contribute to a thrilling finale.
Tour of Britain 2016 route
Stage one, Sunday September 4
Glasgow – Castle Douglas, 168km
Glasgow, Stewarton, Kilmarnock, Mauchline, Patna, Carspharin, New Galloway, Castle Dougals
Having last welcomed the race in 2008, Glasgow hosts the first Scottish Grand Départ since the 2013 edition. In the absence of any notable climbs – the race skirts to the eastern side of the Galloway Forest Park – a sprint finish in Castle Douglas (which last hosted the race in 2006, population of around 4,000) looks likely.
Stage two, Monday September 5
Carlisle – Kendal, 195km
Carlisle, Penrith, Cockermouth, Keswick, Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick
Stage two will offer plenty of familiar terrain for riders, given the Lake District has appeared in numerous editions of the modern Tour. Although the start and finish points of stage two are exactly the same as a 2013 stage won by Gerald Ciolek – the same uphill finish at Beast Banks will again be used – the parcours differs. Most notably, that stage three years ago included the challenging Honister Pass climb, whereas this stage’s toughest climb will be that out of Ambleside in the closing kilometres.
Stage three, Tuesday September 6
Congleton – Tatton Park, Knutsford, 182km
Congleton, Crewe, Sandbach, Middlewich, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Knutsford
Taking place in and around the constituency of Chancellor George Osborne (Boo! Hiss!), stage three gets increasingly tough as the day goes on. The Cat and Fiddle climb, one of the longest in England and described by former British Hill-Climb Champion Tejvan Pettinger as “a fairly steady slog” is included, and riders will pass through the finish at the National Trust-run Tatton Park once before completing a clockwise loop around Cheshire East.
Stage four, Wednesday September 7
Denbigh – Builth Wells, 217km
Denbigh, Buckley, Corwen, Llanidloes, Rhayader, Builth Wells
The race’s longest stage. To summarise, it’s a north-to-south leg through Wales, but the country’s toughest challenges (those climbs in Snowdonia) do not feature. At first glance, it seems somewhat like the 2015 opener into Wrexham, which was won by Sky’s Elia Viviani. The Royal Welsh Showground hosts the finish.
Stage five, Thursday September 8
Aberdare to Bath, 205km
Aberdare, Pontypool, Usk, Gloucester, Dursley, Yate, Bath
Starting in Wales and finishing in England, stage five includes a foray into the Forest of Dean and into Gloucestershire before the modern tour’s first finish in Bath. This looks like being the last sprint stage before the London finale.
Stage six, Friday September 9
Sidmouth to Haytor, 150km
Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Tiverton, Crediton, Exeter, Haytor
The race’s queen stage, and one in which the overall contenders will finally come to the fore. As per stage two, there will be familiar roads aplenty – Sidmouth featured in the 2013 race, Exeter in 2014 – and the finishing climb hosted the modern tour’s first proper hill-top finish three years ago. While not the longest (5.7 kilometres) nor the steepest (an average gradient of six per cent), the few steeper sections and exposed nature towards the top will add to the challenge.
Stage seven – split stage, Saturday September 10
Bristol individual time trial, 15km
Bristol circuit race, 76.5km
Clifton Down, Leigh Woods, Bower Ashton, Hotwells, Clifton Down
Stage seven is the race’s most intriguing day by far, with its 15-kilometre individual time trial in the morning, and five-lap circuit race in the afternoon around the same course that starts and finishes atop the Clifton Downs. The final kilometres are the same as those used in the race’s 2014 visit to the city; Etixx-Quick Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski took the victory that day.
Stage eight, Sunday September 11
London circuit race, 100km
Piccadilly, Stand, Whitehall, Piccadilly
The success of the race’s “new” circuit around the capital in the 2015 race has resulted in the same 6.2-kilometre route being included for this year’s finale. Riders will tackle 14 laps of the circuit; Viviani also won here last year after André Greipel was disqualified for a dangerous sprint, and it’s extremely likely that the finish will be contested by the fast men.
Tour of Britain 2015 route
This year’s Tour of Britain route started in Wales for the first time before heading into England and Scotland. It includes eight stages, the final of which will be a criterium around Central London.
Away from the WorldTour riders, the ToB is a chance for domestic teams to get some television time and possibly cause a couple of upsets.
It’s most likely that these teams will feature in the breakaways on a daily basis and may also go looking for intermediate classification points along the way.
Here, CW lists the towns, cities and villages this year’s race will pass through, as well as analysing the likely type of rider who will triumph there.
Stage one, Sunday September 6
Beaumaris, Anglesey to Wrexham, 177km
Beaumaris – Menai Bridge – Llanberis – Pen-y-Pass – Betws-y-Coed – Llanrwst – Denbigh – Ruthin – Mold – Buckley – Wrexham
Elia Viviani (Sky) narrowly came out on top after a bunch sprint concluded the stage in Wrexham. As Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) fought for position, Viviani deftly nipped up beside them to take the victory on the line. Italian Viviani leads the race going into stage two.
Stage two, Monday September 7
Clitheroe to Colne, 162km
Clitheroe – Nick O’Pendle -Whalley – Longridge – Dunsop Bridge – Slaidburn – Barnoldswick – Earby – Clitheroe – Whalley – Nelson – Colne
Petr Vakoc (Etixx – Quick-Step) made this Ardennes style route his own after going solo with around 20km remaining on the stage and taking not only the stage glory, but the overall race lead by 11 seconds over Movistar’s JJ Lobato. The previous day’s winner, Elia Viviani (Team Sky) finished over 21 minutes back on the day’s winner along with British sprint Mark Cavendish (Etixx).
Ten riders to watch at the 2015 Tour of Britain:
Stage three, Tuesday September 8
Cockermouth to Floors Castle, Kelso, 216km
Stage three saw Elia Viviani (Sky) take his second stage victory of the race on the fast run in to Floors Castle, but the biggest drama came as race leader Petr Vakoc (Etixx – Quick-Step) lost his hold on the yellow jersey. The Czech champion crashed with 3.2km remaining on the stage and eventually rolled in 10 minutes down on the stage winner.
Stage four Wednesday September 9
Edinburgh to Blyth, 218km
Edinburgh – Duns – Coldstream – Wooler – Alnwick – Ashington – Morpeth – Blyth
Stage four came down to the third bunch sprint of the race so far and was taken by young Etixx – Quick-Step stagiaire Fernando Gaviria on the run into Blyth. The Colombian beat André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) to the line, while Spaniard Juan José Lobato (Movistar) held on to the yellow jersey of race leader by six seconds over Boasson Hagen.
Watch: Why pro riders love the Tour of Britain
Stage five, Thursday September 10
Prudhoe to Hartside Pass, 171km
Prudhoe – Hexham – Hadrian’s Wall – Brampton – Ullswater – Penrith – Melmerby – Hartside Fell
Wout Poels (Team Sky) took the the victory on the Tour of Britain’s only summit finish of the 2015 edition, riding past Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) in the final 150m to seal the stage glory.
He couldn’t claim the leader’s yellow jersey however, as Boasson Hagen’s five-second lead on Poels at the start of the day saw the Norwegian champion move to the top of the GC by one second.
Stage six, Friday September 11
Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, 189km
Stoke-on-Trent – Leek – Buxton – Whaley Bridge – Chapel-en-le-Frith – Hathersage – Bakewell – Matlock – Cromford – Belper – Ilkeston – Nottingham
The undulating route of stage six passed through the Peak District en route to Robin Hood country. and split the race up as riders chased stage victory and taking the overall classification lead from Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka).
In the end, Boasson Hagen was able to attack the reduced bunch which has been controlled by Sky for much of the day, but couldn’t out-sprint Matteo Trentin (Etixx – Quick-Step) who was already out front having been in a breakaway.
The Norwegian was able to extend his overall lead to 13 seconds over Wout Poels (Team Sky) as Trentin took the stage glory.
Stage seven, Saturday September 12
Fakenham to Ipswich, 225km
Fakenham – Aylsham – Norwich – Wymondham – Attleborough – Thetford – Bury St Edmunds – Stowmarket – Needham Market – Hadleigh – East Bergholt – Ipswich
The penultimate stage of the 2015 Tour of Britain came down to a photo-finish bunch sprint in Ipswich, where German André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) took the victory from double stage winner Elia Viviani (Team Sky) by the narrowest of margins.
Race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) put in another strong finish to place fifth and safely retain his yellow jersey. Barring disaster, Boasson Hagen looks set to take his second ToB title.
Throughout the stage, a close battle was fought between Madison-Genesis and One Pro Cycling teams as the squads vied for the King of the Mountains classification. In the end, it was One Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams who took the KoM jersey on the final climb.
Stage eight, Sunday September 13
London criterium, 93km (15×6.2km laps)
Regent Street St James – Piccadilly Circus – Regent Street – Piccadilly Circus – Haymarket – Trafalgar Square – Strand – Aldwych – Trafalgar Square – Whitehall – Trafalgar Square – Pall Mall – Regent Street St James
Work to build London’s east-west Cycle Superhighway along the Victoria Embankment has forced organisers and Transport for London to come up with a new course to use for the final stage. The result is one that should look just as striking on television, and the uphill drag towards the finish line will be a bigger test than the previous gallop along Whitehall.