The route of the 2013 Tour of Britain has been unveiled with a pledge that it will be the most challenging yet.
A 10-mile time trial and the first summit finish in the 10-year history of the modern Tour are among the highlights of a parcours that will finish on Whitehall, seven days and eight stages after the race begins in Scotland on Sunday September 15.
Race director, Mick Bennett, said: “It’s a tough and challenging route and one that will reward riders who go on the attack from day one.”
“Hard” was the first word on the lips of many of Britain’s top riders when asked by RoadCyclingUK to give their reaction to the course at a slick launch event in central London.
Stage one (201km) – Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle, Scotland – Sunday September 15
The opening stage of the Tour of Britain will be held in Scotland for the first time in 2013, a stage described by Bennett as “perfect for the opening leg”.
The Grand Depart will take place in Peebles, in the Scottish borders, sending the riders on a 201km route along the Galloway coast, before heading north through Dumfries to Drumlanrig Castle, where a 20km finishing circuit will allow spectators to see the riders pass twice.
Stage two (225km) – Carlisle to Kendal – Monday September 16
Bennett warned the riders who attended the launch that the 225km stage from Carlisle to Kendal would be the “longest and most grueling stage” in the history of the modern Tour.
The 225km route will take the riders through the heart of Cumbria and the Lake District, past the lakes of Windermere, Coniston, and Derwent Water. “Swallows and Amazons this won’t be,” said Bennett.
Hoinster Pass, in the middle of the stage, has gradients that peak at 25 per cent. Bennett promised “a relentless series of climbs,” in the latter half of the stage.
“We’ll be looking to reshape general classification following this stage,” he said.
Stage three (16km) – Knowsley time trial – Tuesday September 17
The longest individual time trial in the history of the modern Tour of Britain, the third stage will be a 10-mile test, one described Bennett as a “classic British time trial distance, allowing fans to compare their times to the world’s best.”
The flat, 16km circuit will start and finish in Knowsley Safari Park, and includes a section in the grounds of Knowsley Hall.
Stage four (190.9km) – Stoke-on-Trent to Llanberis – Wednesday September 18
Stoke-on-Trent will host the Tour of Britain for the sixth time, sending the riders west on a 190.9km parcours through Staffordshire and Shropshire, into Wales.
Once across the border, the riders will pass through the heart of Snowdonia, to a finish boasting the 1,085-metre peak of Snowdon as a backdrop. “The television pictures, believe me, will be truly amazing,” said Bennett.
Stage five (177.1km) – Machynlleth to Caerphilly – Thursday September 19
Last year’s unforgettable scenes on Caerphilly Mountain, where eventual winner, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, seized control of the race, could be repeated this year, with the traditional dual-ascent of the 271-metre climb.
Bennett promised the riders would tackle “new and very picturesque roads” on a route through Builth Wells, before hitting familiar territory in the Brecon Beacons, en route to Caerphilly Mountain.
Stage six (137km) – Sidmouth to Haytor, Dartmoor – Friday September 20
Last year’s visit to Devon was widely considered the toughest of the 2012 Tour of Britain, and the county will host the first summit finish of the race’s modern era.
A six kilometre climb into Haytor will provide the climax to a “short and punchy stage with a sting in the tail,” described by Bennett as one of the talking points of the 2013 edition. He praised the “phenomenal crowds” that had greeted the last Tour of Britain’s last two visits to Devon and said the riders could expect “a brilliant reception” on this year’s final climb.
Stage seven (150.4km) – Epsom to Guildford – Saturday September 21
The finale of last year’s race, a finish in Guildford, won by Mark Cavendish, will become the penultimate stage of the 2013 edition. Bennett said the scale of the crowds on Guildford’s High Street, estimated at nearly 60,000, as “absolutely terrifying”.
Riders will again tackle the Surrey Hills, including Leith Hill and Barhatch Lane, where Wouter Sybrandy (IG-Sigma Sport) suffered a horrendous crash last year. Mention of the Dutchman’s recovery sparked spontaneous applause from the 250 guests at the launch, and Bennett invited him to the stage.
Stage eight (88km) – London – Sunday September 22, 2013
After a year’s absence, enforced by the London Olympic Games, the Tour of Britain will return to its traditional final location, with 10 laps of a city centre route that starts and finishes on Whitehall, but this year will stretch as far as Tower Bridge. Bennett described the circuit as “iconic”.
A women’s race, expected to attract the world’s top female teams, will be held before the final stage. Bennett pledged that the best domestic women’s teams would be invited to race.