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2008 Tour of Britain Announced
 
By Staff
Date: 4/8/2008
2008 Tour of Britain Announced
 

2008 Tour of Britain Announced
September 7 - 14 Route and Cities: Eight Stages, 730 miles, 16 teams - London plans set for 2008 through 2011

Mark Sharon
Editor-at-Large

The world was given first sight of the 2008 Tour of Britain this week, when CEO Hugh Roberts and Technical Director Mick Bennett unveiled the route at an event at London’s Transport Museum on Thursday (3rd of April).

Starting on September 7, and comprising eight stages, up from last years seven, the route revealed an ambitious plan to reach as much of the UK as is feasible in the time allotted by the UCI. While the exact route of each stage was held back to be announced at events in each region later in the spring, it was clear that this race was as much about taking cycling to the people, as providing a stage for the riders to perform.


The Striking Tour of Britain Poster

Tour of Britain Stages
7 September - London
8 September - Milton Keynes-Newbury
9 September - Chard-Burnham-on-Sea
10 September - Worcester-Stoke
11 September - Kingston-upon-Hull-Dalby Forest
12 September - Darlington-NewcastleGateshead
13 September - Glasgow-Dumfries & Galloway
14 September - Blackpool-Liverpool
In all, entire race will cover 730 miles.

Stage 1 will be a 10 lap, 85 km criterium in Central London. The route takes the peloton alongside the River Thames between Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. The organisers hope the circuit will provide spectators with a backdrop the equal of any city in Europe. Fans will certainly be treated to some high speed racing, and with a helicopter providing overhead race coverage tracking the progress will be easy. In a deal covering the following four years London will switch position to take on the role of the race finish.


Stage 1 Tour of Britain in London course map.

The following seven stages describe a reversed S across England and Scotland before the race finishes in Liverpool. The first thing that strikes about the overall route is the apparently disjointed nature of it, as if a small child has been asked to scribble eight times on the map. No two stages link up and the average transfer distance is 100m (160km) or more.


Tour of Britain Management: Graham Jones (Route Director), Mick Bennett (Technical Eirector) and Hugh Roberts (CEO).  Photo ©2008 Mark Sharon

Tech Director Mick Bennett was asked about this issue, and explained, “We have looked very carefully at the course of the route. Principle sponsorship has come from each of the regions we are visiting, and part of the deal is that the start and finish is within each region.”

Route Director Graham Jones, who has also ridden the Tour de France four times, went onto explain, “We don’t believe that the transfers will be onerous, given the quality of the transport that many teams bring with them. We have worked hard to make sure that will they will reach their hotels as early as possible. We had the same situation last year and teams were happy with the results”.

Without knowing the course of each stage it’s difficult to determine which areas will test the field the most. Last year the equivalent of this year’s stage 3, 113 miles between Chard – Burnham-on-Sea, proved to be decisive when it saw the field fragment crossing Exmoor. The following day’s Stage 4 between Worcester and Stoke-on-Trent, might see the route dip westward to towards the Shropshire hill country around the Long Mynd and some correspondingly tough climbs.

It’s worth noting at this point that the race doesn’t manage to include Wales, home to some of Britain’s highest mountains, whose absence in the past has led some to complain that it is not truly a Tour of Britain. However as Mick Bennett explained, “We haven’t deliberately excluded Wales, and in fact we would love to include it again. We only have eight days to play with. That’s what the UCI has given us so we can’t just expand to please. If a region in Wales comes to us and says they want a stage we would be very glad to build it in”.

The race then switches sides of the country and travels north along the coast for two stages before returning to the west of the country and the only non-English stage, Stage 7 Glasgow – Dumfries & Galloway.

It is said that a large proportion of the Tour de France’s TV coverage is followed not by race fans, but people who just want to watch the French scenery. The Tour of Britain organisers might well have had this in mind with Stage 7, which passes through an area regarded as some of the finest cycling country in Scotland.

For stage 8, and final test, the riders tackle 75mi between Blackpool and Liverpool, dubbed a European Capital of Culture. The final 25 miles will comprise a 3 lap circuit of the city centre. The organisers hope that crowds in excess of 70,000 will be on hand to watch the survivors.


Plowman/Craven team representatives at the presentation. Photo ©2008 Mark Sharon

The field of 96 riders will comprise 16 six-man teams. Who will ride the race is still being decided. So far 25 teams have applied to race, but Mick Bennett, has already allocated four spots to British teams. These are Plowman Craven, Rapha Condor, Pinarello, and the GB Team. As far as foreign teams are concerned the field is still wide open and could be up to seven weeks before the event. With the event hot on the heels of the Beijing Olympics, where British hopes are currently running very high, the plan is to include teams which showcase British talent. High on the list must be Mark Cavenish’s Team High Road, and Bradley Wiggin’s Francaise des Jeux.


British Team Rapha/Condor was at the presentation with the team Condor bike one of the grand marques of British Bikes. Photo ©2008 Mark Sharon

The final team selection will be the result of two main factors. An obvious one is the willingness of a team to take part, but the other is Mick Bennett’s desire to create a field which is not dominated by Protour teams who can close down a race. While the ability for teams to do this will be limited somewhat by having only six men, powerful teams can still bring influence to bear. According to Mick Bennett, “Our ability to choose the field is why I am very content with the event’s 2.1 classification. I have no desire to see it become part of the ProTour. If it were a ProTour event I would have to include certain teams, and I wouldn’t be able to include domestic squads.”

Details of each stage will be published over the coming weeks, and analysed here on The Daily Peloton.

Useful contacts:
http://www.tourofbritain.com
http://www.uci.ch/
http://www.britishcycling.org.uk 
http://www.teamplowmancraven.com/
http://www.raphacondor.blogspot.com/
http://www.pinarellort.com/
Sponsor EON

Additional Information:
Transport for London (TfL) will bring the Tour of Britain to the Capital for the next four years. It will start in London in 2008, and will finish here in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL said:
“Cycling is enjoying a massive renaissance in London, both as a great way to get around and as a fantastic spectator sport. Events such as the Tour of Britain are really important to Transport for London’s work around encouraging and promoting cycling in the Capital, so it’s great news that the Tour’s riders will be racing on our streets during the next four years.”

Visit London Chief Executive James Bidwell said:
“The growth and development of the Tour of Britain across London cements the Capital’s reputation as the most prestigious global sporting city in the world. London will prepare for a fantastic day of celebration and festivities, and provide us with a tremendous opportunity to showcase this great British cycling tour. Visit London’s intention is to continue to attract the best and biggest events to the Capital in the lead up to and beyond the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The Capital has already seen an 83 per cent increase in the number of cycle journeys on London’s major roads since 2000, with an estimated 480,000 cycle journeys made everyday. More information about cycling in London can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/cycling

Visit London is the official visitor organisation for London. Their role is to promote London as the most exciting city on the planet, targeting domestic and overseas leisure and business visitors as well as Londoners. Visit London works in partnership with the Mayor, the London Development Agency and the tourism industry in London.

History of The Tour of Britain
The Tour of Britain is a blue riband cycling event that returned to the British cycling calendar in 2004 after an absence of five years. Cycling is a hugely popular sport and British cyclists are among the best in the world, winning five gold medals in the 2004 Olympics and Paralympics.

The Tour of Britain has formerly been known as the Milk Race, the Kellogg’s Tour and the Pru Tour. Our aspiration was to re-launch the event along the lines of the Tour de France, which has no title sponsor but a spectrum of public and private sector support. We hope that this will add sustainability and longevity to this important event.

The Tour of Britain has placed itself on a global platform alongside major races such as The Tour de France and Giro d’Italia by attracting a combination of national and international teams. Participants have included world champions, Olympic medallists and Tour de France winning teams.

The Tour of Britain has three directors:
Chief Executive, Hugh Roberts who also heads sporting marketing and events company Sweetspot
Mick Bennett, double Olympic medallist
Peter Moore OBE, former Managing Director of Center Parc
The Tour of Britain is a not for profit organisation governed by a Board of Trustees with representatives from the sport of cycling, trade and industry and politics.

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