The route for the 2018 Ovo Energy Tour of Britain has been revealed, with highlights including the first team time trial in the race's history, before Whinlatter Pass takes centre stage for a summit finish just a day later.
The 14km team time trial will take place on stage five, starting in Cockermouth before finishing on the western side of Whinlatter Pass. Twenty-four hours later the peloton will tackle Whinlatter Pass again, this time from its tougher eastern side for stage six’s summit finish.
The overall route appears to be a lot more climbing-focused than previous editions and should help contribute to a regularly changing GC, with race director Mike Bennett looking to keep the field on their toes.
“This year we have worked hard to create an innovative and unpredictable route, with several surprises in store throughout the race," said Bennett. "Several stages have stings in the tail; climbs positioned towards the finale of stages one, two and three will keep the outcome up in the air until the very end.
“Our partners at Cumbria County Council have helped us to achieve something that we have been keen to do for a number of years on stage five – a team time trial that finishes atop Whinlatter Pass. This will be a test like no other, as teams will have to get their equipment choices and tactics spot on. The race may not be won here, but some riders could certainly lose it.
Stage one - September 2:
Pembrey Country Park to Newport, 175km
Stage two - September 3:
Cranbrook to Barnstaple, 174km
Stage three - September 4:
Bristol to Bristol, 125km
Stage four - September 5:
Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa, 183km
Stage five - September 6:
Cockermouth to Whinlatter Pass, 14km (Team Time Trial)
Stage six - September 7:
Barrow-in-Furness to Whinlatter Pass, 169km
Stage seven - September 8:
West Bridgford to Mansfield, 223km
Stage eight - September 9:
London circuit, 77km
Proceedings will kick off in Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire on September 2 with a 175km ride through the rollings hills of the Brecon Beacons. The first of Bennett's field-splitting 'stings' comes in the form of the 800m, nine-per-cent climb of Belmont Hill less than 10km out from the finish at Newport.
After starting in Cranbrook, stage two will see the tour take in the hilly north Devon coast before finishing in the town of Barnstaple, while Cheddar Gorge is the highlight of the third stage – an out-and-back route from Bristol to the north Somerset hills that finishes on the Clifton Down.
Warwickshire will host its first Tour of Britain stage for 25 years on the fourth day of racing – a 183km ride from Nuneaton to Royal Lemington Spa that has the potential to be the race’s first sprint finish.
The peloton then heads to Cumbria for stages five and six – the aforementioned TTT before a lumpy 169km route around the Lake District that finishes at the eastern summit of Whinlatter Pass.
Tour of Britain
The penultimate day’s racing is also the tour’s longest – a relatively flat 223km from West Bridgford to Mansfield – with the stage likely to be another day for the sprinters.
Finally, the 2018 Tour of Britain returns to London for its conclusion on September 9, using the same 3.5km 14-lap circuit around the capital’s West End as the final stages of the 2015 and 2016 editions.