The route for the 2016 Tour of Britain has been announced and will take the riders from Scotland, through Wales and the South West of England. The eight-day race, which begins in Glasgow on September 4 and finishes in London a week later, hopes to form, once again, part of many riders' preparations for the World Championships.
“We are confident that this year’s route for the Tour of Britain will provide the opportunity for eight exciting days of racing and a multitude of opportunities for riders and teams to be aggressive and make the race,” said race director Mick Bennett. “We believe that with the combination of longer stages of over 200-kilometres, the tough circuit and time trial in Bristol and the summit finish at Haytor we have not just a great preparation for the World Championships but also a fantastic race that will showcase the British countryside and stands alone in its own right as a race riders will want to win.
Bristol is set to host a split stage on the penultimate day of racing with a time trial and road race taking place on the same hilly course. Bennett told Cyclingnews that this split stage will have a much bigger impact than the previous London split days. "It is a technical one, and the climb up zig zag hill was difficult enough in 2014 when [Michal] Kwiatkowski won and that was just one climb of it. I think it will make all the difference. The time trial in London was pan flat and the circuit was too. This time it is a technical time trial circuit, not one for the purists, and then they’ve got it five times in the afternoon so it is completely different to the London concept," he said.
Several WorldTour teams have already secured their spot in the 2016 event, including Team Sky, BMC, Lotto-Soudal, Orica-GreenEdge, Cannondale, Dimension Data, Trek-Segafredo, Lotto-Jumbo and Movistar. There will once again be a British national team while the WIGGINS team are also secure a spot after finishing top of the British squads last year. Bennett hopes that Bradley Wiggins will be among those in the WIGGINS squad come September. There are eight more slots open but only three more British squads will fill that gap. The remaining British teams, of which there are five, will battle it out throughout he British domestic scene to earn points and the three with the most following RideLondon will make the grade for September.
The 2016 Tour of Britain will get underway in Glasgow, where the race began in both 2005 and 2006. As in those two years, the stage is set to take the riders south towards the finish in Castle Douglas. It will flirt with the western coastline as it travels around Kilmarnock before heading back inland. There are a few lumps and bumps along the way, but it is likely that this 168km opener will end in a bunch sprint.
For yet another year, the race will pass through the rolling countryside of Cumbria with stage 2 passing from Carlisle to Kendal. 195km ride will wind its self through the Lake District. Riders will have to tackle Whinlatter Pass and the ominously named The Struggle before finishing on Beast Banks. The same finish in Kendal was used back in 2013 where Gerald Ciolek outmanoeuvred Sam Bennett for the stage win.
A long transfer is on the cards ahead of stage three with the stage set to start in Congleton in Cheshire East. It’s twisting course that will eventually bring the riders into the Peak District before the finish in Tatton Park. There are several climbs grouped together two-thirds of the way in, including the 10km Cat and Fiddle, and a rider could escape to glory here. However, the sprinters teams will be working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen. The riders will get one chance to look at the finish before they race for the honours with the route passing through the finish with 50km to go.
Stage 4 will add Wales to the countries visited by the 2016 Tour and is the longest day of the race at 217 kilometres. The road from, Tour of Britain start town newbie, Denbigh to Builth Wells is a rolling one and the riders will have clocked up 4,133 metres of climbing by the time the reach the finish. The start of stage 5 will keep the riders in Wales and will negotiate its way through South Wales and the Forrest of Dean before finishing in Bath – which hosted a stage start in 2014.
After a missing out altogether last year, the South West of England will see plenty of racing in the final days of the 2016 race. After the finish in Bath, the peloton will head to Devon for stage 6. Beginning in Sidmouth, the race will go inland briefly followed by a sharp turn towards the Dartmoor National Park. The stage will see the toughest test for the riders thus far with the return of the summit finish on Haytor, where Simon Yates rode to glory in 2013.
In a slight change to previous editions, the penultimate day in Bristol will be a split stage with a time trial in the morning and a circuit race in the afternoon. The 15km time trial will start up on the Clifton Downs and takes the riders through town and back up to the Clifton Downs. It is a technical course, and two steep climbs will add an extra element of difficulty. The afternoon stage will take place on the same course with the riders completing five laps.
As is the tradition now, the final stage is in London, with the riders duking it out in a 100km criterium race. It’ll be a fast and furious affair with the sprinters eyeing up a shot at the victory at the end of the day.
2016 Tour of Britain route
Stage 1, Sunday, September 4: Glasgow to Castle Douglas 168km
Stage 2, Monday, September 5: Carlisle to Kendal 195km
Stage 3, Tuesday, September 6: Congleton to Tatton Park, Knutsford 182km
Stage 4, Wednesday, September 7: Denbigh to Builth Wells 217km
Stage 5, Thursday, September 8: Aberdare to Bath 205km
Stage 6, Friday, September 9: Sidmouth to Haytor, Dartmoor 150km
Stage 7a, Saturday, September 10: Bristol Stage Individual Time Trial 15km
Stage 7b, Saturday, September 10: Bristol Stage Circuit Race 76.5km
Stage 8, Sunday, September 11: London Stage presented by TfL 100km
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