Summit finish in Wales, Bath to debut in 2.HC event
Organisers of the Tour of Britain announced the details of the 2014 edition's route for the newly-minted UCI 2.HC category event.
With the upgraded status brings more difficulties, and riders will be challenged by the hardest summit finish to date when they tackle stage 3 ending atop The Tumble in South Wales.
"This year's Tour of Britain is set to be the biggest and best yet and is a fantastic way to showcase the event's new, upgraded 2.HC status," British Cycling's Cyclesport Director, Jonny Clay, said.
"The Tour of Britain will not only deliver on every level for cycling fans, giving them the opportunity to see the best teams and riders in the world competing on their door step, but it is also a great day out for people of all ages. Watching the race from the roadside is free, allowing thousands of spectators to get caught up in the excitement of the event passing through their city, town or village."
Seven new towns will be included in the race this year, including Bath (home of Cyclingnews publishers Future Plc), Brighton and Bristol.
The Liverpool and London city centres will bookend the route, with the September 7th opening stage featuring a ten-lap, 130km stage starting and finishing on The Strand in Liverpool.
The battle for the race leader's yellow jersey will go down to the final day in central London, with a split stage consisting of an individual time trial, followed by a circuit race on the same 8.8km loop finishing on Whitehall.
In between, the riders will travel 197km from Knowsley across North Wales to Llandudno on stage 2, and then hit their first major obstacle on stage 3, when they race 150km from Newton to the 6km climb known as The Tumble, above Abergavenny.
Bristol to Worcester, an 182km stage 4 follows, and will take in the steep 1000m climb up Bridge Valley Road to the finish on Clifton Downs.
The Devon stage, tackling the Haytor on Dartmoor climb that featured as a summit finish in 2013 at the midpoint, ends in Exeter after 171km on stage 5, before the race makes its debut in Bath on stage 6. Riders will set out from Bath facing a 203km ride to Hemel Hempstead in Dacorum.
A 220km stage 7 from Camberley to Brighton precedes the race's conclusion in London.
"With our toughest summit finish yet, an individual time trial in London and several longer stages, this year's Tour of Britain has a varied and testing route that will present opportunities to a variety of riders," said Race Director Mick Bennett.
"The route will again showcase some fantastic scenery, and combine major British cities with charming and picturesque towns and villages, as well as testing climbs, all of which will make for a memorable Tour."
Fans can expect expanded television coverage for the Tour of Britain, with three-hours of live coverage daily, plus an hour's highlights show each evening, announced as part of a new multi-year deal with ITV.
"The increased television coverage at home and abroad and the upgrade of The Tour to HC status firmly places The Tour of Britain among the top ten stage races in the world," said Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of organisers SweetSpot Group.
"With our renewed relationship with British Cycling we are now in a position to build upon solid foundations going forward, opening up exciting new commercial opportunities around the London stage, and The Tour of Britain as a whole, that can only benefit the race and cycling in Britain."
An 18-team line-up of six-rider squads is planned for The Tour of Britain, with the first ten teams confirmed at the race's national launch. Joining a Great Britain national squad in the race will be nine top-level UCI Pro Tour teams - Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC, Cannondale, Garmin Sharp, Movistar, Omega Pharma Quick-Step, Team Giant Shimano, Team Sky and Tinkoff - Saxo.
The remaining eight teams will be announced later this summer.
2014 Tour of Britain route:
Stage 1: Sunday 7th September - Liverpool city centre, 130km
Stage 2: Monday 8th September - Knowsley - Llandudno, 197km
Stage 3: Tuesday 9th September - Newtown to The Tumble, 150km
Stage 4: Wednesday 10th September - Worcester - Bristol, 182km
Stage 5: Thursday 11th September - Exmouth - Exeter, 171km
Stage 6: Friday 12th September - Bath - Hemel Hempstead, 203km
Stage 7: Saturday 13th September - Camberley - Brighton, 220km
Stage 8a: Sunday 14th September - London individual time trial, 8.8km
Stage 8b: Sunday 14th September - London circuit race, 88.8km
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