Details of all of the 2016 Tour of Britain route, which runs from September 4 to 11
Stage one may have proved him correct at the earliest opportunity, as André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) took the win and with it the first leader’s jersey.
Starting in Glasgow and ending in London eight days and 1308.5km later, the route seems 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, the 2016 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.
All the latest from the 2016 Tour of Britain
Tour of Britain 2016 route
Stage one, Sunday September 4
Glasgow – Castle Douglas, 168km
Glasgow, Stewarton, Kilmarnock, Mauchline, Patna, Carspharin, New Galloway, Castle Dougals
The opening stage win gave Greipel the leader’s jersey, which he gave plenty of television time to on the following stage by getting in a threatening breakaway.
Stage two, Monday September 5
Carlisle – Kendal, 195km
Carlisle, Penrith, Cockermouth, Keswick, Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick
Stage two was an exciting race to watch, and by most accounts a pretty gruelling one to ride. Rain, fog and some pretty challenging climbs all contributed to the race being split into small groups all over the road.
However, it was Vermote who took the win thanks to having the most left on the summit finish despite being in the break all day.
Stage three, Tuesday September 6
Congleton – Tatton Park, Knutsford, 182km
Congleton, Crewe, Sandbach, Middlewich, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Knutsford
Ian Stannard (Team Sky) rode to a memorable victory on stage three into Tatton Park. The Classics man was in an initial breakaway of four riders, but later left his companions and went solo all the way to the finish line.
After Team Sky’s Plan A appeared to fall apart with Wout Poels coming in almost 12 minutes down on the day’s winner on stage two, Stannard’s win the very next day will go a long way to salvaging the WorldTour squad’s week.
Stage four, Wednesday September 7
Denbigh – Builth Wells, 217km
Denbigh, Buckley, Corwen, Llanidloes, Rhayader, Builth Wells
The race’s longest stage – a north-to-south leg through Wales – was hard fought affair over some undulating terrain, with attacks constantly trying to split the main peloton.
While many riders were dropped, including Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), the race eventually came down to a sprint finish, which was won by Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) ahead of Great Britain’s Dan McLay in second.
Julien Vermote (Etixx-Quick Step) held on to his overall lead after finishing in the front group, with his teammates keeping him up near the front of the race through the whole day.
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 Greipel was disqualified for a dangerous sprint, and it’s extremely likely that the finish will be contested by the fast men.