Cycle racing in the UK is set to receive a big boost in 2005 with the launch of a new domestic stage race. To be held over four days in September on roads in southern and eastern England, the Tour of the
South should provide a useful late season test for many of the country’s up and coming riders.
The race will cover a distance of approximately 500 kilometres (310 miles). Starting in Dorset, riders
will head north-east to skirt west London before entering the eastern home counties and then crossing
into Kent to head for a finish in Sussex.
Commencing on Thursday 15th September, stage one is expected to present a hilly start, using many of
the roads utilised for the well established Tour of Cranborne Chase. From here, stage two will see
the riders on the flatter roads between Reading and Milton Keynes before transferring to Soham for an
undulating third stage finishing at Hadleigh. After an overnight transfer across the Thames to
Maidstone, the field faces a challenging final stage on Sunday 18th September, traversing the
Ashdown Forest before the finish in Crawley.
The field of eighty riders will be made up of sixteen 5-man teams, with preference being given to
division and home country national squads. Already six of British Cycling’s twelve divisions have
confirmed their intention to field teams and invitations are now being extended to commercial and
club teams who will complete the line-up
Details of the route for each day are still being finalised, as is the size of prize fund available. But
riders should have plenty to compete for, with the prizes for the stage and overall team competitions
being augmented by individual as well as mountains and sprint awards.
The race is being promoted in response to the need for a better balanced and progressive system
of road racing as identified by BC’s recent competition review. BC board member Keith Butler
explained “This event is intended for those riders who would not usually get the chance to ride a stage
race. It will give those who know they can do well in single-day races the opportunity to see if they
have what it takes to race for several days in a row. They will be competing against riders of a similar
ability and so have the chance to find out if they are suited to this type of racing without being
completely outclassed by more experienced riders, which is what can happen if they go straight into
one of the bigger tours at home or abroad.”
Race co-ordinator Garth Staden added “The four stages will be organised by a different division each
day, with South, Central, Eastern and South East divisions all taking their turn. The idea is to provide
a high quality, well organised race every day and to this end we have tapped into the wealth of
expertise available locally in the four divisions participating. They in turn have secured the services of
some of the most experienced organisers in the south and so we are confident that riders and spectators
alike will enjoy four days of well run and competitive racing.”
Contact point for queries and more information is race co-ordinator Garth Staden. He can be reached by telephone/fax on 01903 879037 or by e-mail to [email protected]