The organisers of The Tour of Britain, run from September 7 through 14, unveiled the route of the eighth and final stage of this year's edition of the race. The peloton will cross England's Northwest to finish in the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Liverpool.
Tour of Britain Route Director Graham Jones explained his motives. "The final leg of The Tour of Britain is always an exciting stage and this year will be no different. We've got a great finishing circuit in the centre of Liverpool, which will allow fans to see the race several times. The run in to the city is very flat, so the peloton will be at top speed when they reach Liverpool, which is sure to make for a bunch sprint, a spectacular prospect for all the spectators who come down to the finish line."
Councillor Warren Bradley was happy with the announced final missing piece of the route. "Liverpool is honoured to be hosting the finale to the Tour of Britain.... The race finale is a unique sporting spectacle and I'm sure it will draw huge crowds and make for a great sporting occasion in the city. The fans can expect live sport at its best and the riders can expect a glorious welcome."
The riders will depart from Blackpool's Southern Promenade close to the Sandcastle for the final 110 kilometres (68 miles) of the race, hugging the coast of the Irish Sea through Lytham St Annes before heading inland up the Ribble Valley to Preston, where the race will cross the River Ribble.
From Preston the stage heads across the West Lancashire Coastal Plain to Southport for the first Hot Spot Sprint of the day on the seafront. The stage then continues via Formby to enter Liverpool through Crosby and Bootle.
Once in the European Capital of Culture, The Tour will complete six laps of a city centre based circuit, giving fans several opportunities to see the closing stages of the 2008 Tour of Britain.
The field will contest two Hot Spot Sprints at the finish line on The Strand, while the final three E.ON King of the Mountains climbs are located on Churchill Way at the top of the circuit.
With a circuit passing familiar landmarks like the Three Graces, the Town Hall and the Walker Art Gallery, it's sure to be a spectacular finish to the race, with plenty of opportunities for spectators to get a great view point.
The Northwest stage of the race is supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which has been instrumental in securing the region's position on the Tour of Britain map since its successful re-launch in 2004.
Liverpool has a proud history of hosting stages of The Tour of Britain, having been a fixture on the races' calendar since 2006, when Great Britain's Roger Hammond took the win outside the Town Hall. In 2007 Liverpool hosted a stage start, as the riders set off from Sefton Park on their way north to Kendal for Stage Five of the race.