The Tour of the South takes to British roads starting from Wimborne in Dorset on Thursday, September 15, taking 13 teams through four separate British Cycling Division territories and across more counties.
Initially the dream of Central Division’s Trevor Smith, the ambitious four-day race came about following the Competition Review undertaken by British Cycling. The 310-mile race has been designed to be a stepping stone for domestic riders to gain valuable stage race experience between local and national competition. The race is exclusively for riders from the home nations and open to five-man teams only.
Garry Dodd (South East Division) and Danny Axford (Artic/Shorter) will be amongst the favourites for stage and overall victories based on their previous stage race exploits with Dodd finishing fifth in the recent Surrey 5-Day. Roy Chamberlain (Central Division) has shown form in the Premier Calendar events racing with the Team Milton Keynes squad this year and will be one to watch. Chamberlain’s team mate Simon Gaywood will be difficult to pass if it comes down to a bunch gallop on any stages.
With the Melbourne Commonwealth Games on the horizon in March next year and teams still to be decided Anthony Malarczyk may be anxious to prove his fitness and race know-how as part of the Fugibikes UK team entry.
Former professional Ben Luckwell could a good outside bet riding as part of the South Division team. Luckwell returned to competition around two years ago and has been enjoying racing at local level gaining his Elite licence and you can’t ignore his pedigree.
The Surrey League field a composite team with climber Matt Melville likely to contest the King of the Mountains (KOM) prize and Brett Perez comes to the event with plenty of good results under his belt already this year. A generous prize fund of £3,500 and prizes for the overall classification down to 20th place could see competitive racing everyday.
The race schedules as follows:
South Division’s stage one - September 15: Wimborne to Shaftesbury in Dorset, 81 miles. A tough hilly circuit around Cranborne Chase.
Central Division’s stage two - September 16: Based in Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire, 72 miles. A relatively flat circuit with a sting in the tail on the short steep ascent back into Long Crendon, where KOM points will be awarded on two of the five laps
Eastern Division’s stage three - September 17: Soham, Cambridgeshire to Hadleigh, Suffolk. A multiple circuit stage that doubles the normal distance of 41 to 83-miles with pretty English countryside to enjoy peppered with KOM and sprint primes along the way.
South East Division’s stage four - September 18: Maidstone, Kent to Crawley, East Sussex. An ambitious 74-mile stage starting in Maidstone Town Centre taking in areas previously used in the recent Surrey League 5-Day. Notably riders will climb for around two miles up Marsden Hill to Crowborough after 40-miles and then proceed to ‘The Wall’ just after Coleman’s Hatch after 52-miles. This looks like the toughest stage and could provide the platform for victory in the overall and KOM classifications.