The 2014 Tour of Britain will begin in Liverpool on September 7, with a 130km circuit race finishing in the city centre, race organisers have announced, a few hours before the full route is revealed.
The Tour of Britain last visited Liverpool in 2008, when Alessandro Petacchi won the sprint finish and Geoffroy Lequatre sealed overall victory ahead of Stephen Cummings. It is the first time the race will start in the Port city made famous by the Beatles.
Liverpool opted to host the Grand Depart of the Tour of Britain to help launch its cycle hire system.
"There's a real momentum building for cycling in this city. The latest figures show more people than ever are using bikes here and there's a real appetite for it at the moment. And with the launch of our cycle hire scheme - the biggest in the UK outside of London - there has never been a better time for Liverpool to host this high profile event," Liverpool's Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for sport, Councillor Wendy Simon, said in a press release.
Thanks to the growth of cycling in Britain in recent years and the success of British riders and the Tour of Britain, the UCI gave the weeklong stage race Hors Category status during the winter, offering more ranking point to riders and so making the race attractive to WorldTour teams This should attract an even better field and with the race scheduled for between September 7-14, it falls perfectly before the road race world championships and no longer clashing with the team time trial event.
However the Tour of Britain will end on the same day as the Vuelta a Espana, meaning that 2013 winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is unlikely to defend his victory. He plans to use the Vuelta a Espana to prepare for the world time trial championships.
More details of the Liverpool stage route on Monday evening, along with details of a mass participation event to coincide with The Tour of Britain's arrival in the city.
Race Director, Mick Bennett, said: "We are delighted that this year's Tour of Britain can start with such a prestigious stage in the centre of Liverpool. The opening circuit will be perfectly suited to the sprinters, and whoever wins Stage One will pull on the first yellow jersey of 2014."
Organisers Sweetspot has already announced it will organise a women's Tour of Britain in May.