Route of this September’s edition of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race revealed
- First ever Grand Depart for Wales, with Anglesey to host the start
- First visit for the modern Tour to Edinburgh
- Return of race to Lancashire, Northumberland and East Anglia
- Hartside Fell in Cumbria to host race’s summit finish on Stage Five
- Iconic new London route to include Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus
The 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain has been officially launched in London this evening [Tuesday 17 March], with a route that includes the race’s toughest ever summit finish, a revamped final stage in the heart of London and a first ever Grand Depart for Wales.Other firsts for British Cycling’s premier road cycling event include a stage start in the Scottish capital Edinburgh and two stages taking in Northumberland and the north east of England.Having welcomed the Friends Life Tour of Britain annually since 2010, Wales will play host to the opening stage for the first time in the modern race’s history, with a stage which will take in all six regions of North Wales as it heads from Anglesey to Wrexham. It will also be the first time that the race has started on an island.
Stage Two sees the race return to the heart of Lancashire for the first time since 2010, with Ribble ValleyandPendle playing host to a stagefromClitheroetoColne, which will pass through the ForestofBowlandandDunsop Bridge, the geographic centre of the United Kingdon.Cockermouth in Cumbria will be the start venue for the first of two stages to include Scotland, with Stage Three heading through Carlisle, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders to the finish in the grounds of Floors Castle at Kelso.A second Scottish stage will begin from Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, showcasing some of the city’s iconic landscapes before heading through the Borders and Northumberland to the finish on the coast in Blyth.Stage Five will trace Hadrian’s Wall from Prudhoe in Northumberland into Cumbria and the Lake District before finishingatopHartside Fell in the Pennines. At five-miles long and 1,904-feet high, the climbwillprovide the highest and toughest summit finish in the modern Tour of Britain’s history.Friday 11 September’s stage will join two English cities with the peloton racing from Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, the latter returning to the route for the first time since 2012.The penultimate stage will be the longest of the 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain at 225-kilometres, headingfromFakenham in Norfolk to Ipswich in Suffolk, beforethefinal stage in the centre of London.The London stage presented by Transport for London will feature an entirely new route in 2015, starting and finishing on Regent Street St James and providing an iconic backdrop for Britain’s biggest professional cycle race which will take in Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Whitehall.In total eleven venues will welcome the modern Friends Life Tour of Britain for the first time in 2015.
Commenting on this year’s Friends Life Tour of Britain route, Mick Bennett, Race Director, said;
“Overall we are absolutely delighted with the course for the 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain and believe it offers something for everybody across eight very different stages.
“Our hope and intention is to again encourage eight days of aggressive, uninhibited racing, the sort of action that we hope is becoming the trademark of the race. We want our national Tour to reflect the tough terrain which is part and parcel of our cycling scene in the UK, and to showcase both the race and the British countryside to spectators at the roadside and to the television audience both at home and around the world.”
Commenting on the announcement, Bob Howden, President of British Cycling said;
“At British Cycling, we measure the success of our major events strategy by the number of people who watch and are then inspired to participate in our sport and, as our national stage race and the biggest event of the year, the growing popularity of the Friends Life Tour of Britain is further proof that in this country cycling has never been in better health.
“This year’s route will excite any fan of cycling and further boosts the Friends Life Tour of Britain’s reputation as one of world cycling’s must-watch races, but it will also give people all over Britain a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action and encourage them to get out on their bikes.”
Commenting on the brand new route for the London Stage presented by Transport for London, Ben Plowden, Director of Surface Strategy and Planning at TfL, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome back Britain’s biggest professional cycle race to the streets of the London. With a revamped route touching new areas of the city, I’ve no doubt that this year’s race will inspire a new breed of cyclists, who will soon be able to make use of our new and upgraded cycling infrastructure, including segregated Cycle Superhighways.”
Once again ITV will screen three-hours of live coverage of every stage, starting on ITV for the opening Wales stage before reverting to ITV4 for Stages Two to Eight. ITV4 will also screen a one-hour highlights programme each evening during the race.
UK parcel carrier Yodel will continue to sponsor the intermediate YodelDirect Sprints classification while ŠKODA remain official car suppliers and the King of the Mountains sponsors and Chain Reaction Cycles extend and expand their partnership with the race and sponsorship of the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification.
New partners Premier Inn will partner a trophy for the Best British Rider, alongside their similar award in the Friends Life Women’s Tour, while Italian tyre manufacturer Vittoria have been appointed the Official Tyre & Wheel Partner, providing neutral service via their Servizio Corse brand.
The Friends Life Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step.
The Friends Life Tour of Britain
Re-launched in 2004 after a five year absence from the calendar, the Friends Life Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep. The Friends Life Tour of Britain is the UK’s biggest professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event.
Upgraded to 2.HC level by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, for 2014, the Friends Life Tour of Britain attracts the world’s top cyclists, including Olympic and World Champions and Tour de France stage winners, to compete on British roads each September, with three-hours of live coverage a day on ITV4.
For details of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, go to www.tourofbritain.co.uk
Lucy Martin Reaching Summit of Shayley Brow Training for 2012 Lotto-Decca Tour – © Paul Francis Cooper
On the first Sunday of the London Olympic Games, years of anticipation, hope and preparation came to fruition for Lucy Martin. As a member of Great Britain’s Women’s Olympic Road Race team, with Emma Pooley and Nicole Cooke, she gave her all on a treacherous, rain soaked, Box Hill Circuit, delivering a well orchestrated plan to help the team’s fourth member, Lizzie Armitstead, to take silver on the Mall and Great Britain’s first medal of the Games.
In so doing, she became the second cycling Olympian from her hometown of Widnes, Cheshire, since John Geddes secured bronze on the Melbourne track as part of a GB team pursuit team, which included Mike Gambrill, Don Burgess and nineteen-year old Tom Simpson in the 1956 Olympics.
Representing her country in the home Olympics marks the highest point so far in Martin’s cycling career, which started when she was fifteen years old, her potential spotted by British Cycling’s talent identification team on a visit to her secondary school. Although she had competed as a club swimmer and school runner, she had never before been involved in cycling, and, doubting that she could meet British Cycling requirements, almost missed the vital assessment session because of a timetable clash with another subject.
Recruited into the junior talent development team, she joined the Olympic Development Programme after winning the National Junior Road Race Championship in 2008.
Now an established professional women’s road racer based in Girona, Spain, with what she describes as the dream-like experience of taking part in the home Olympics behind her, she is very aware that the time is right to focus on new athletic and career targets.
Image © Paul Francis Cooper
I joined her on Lancashire’s lanes whilst she was out on a training ride in preparation for last weekend’s Belgian three-day stage race, the Lotto-Decca Tour. And she told me. “My three-weeks in the Olympic village were amazing – I had to pinch myself as I rubbed shoulders with the world’s greatest, like Usain Bolt. The crowds and excitement of the road race, and Lizzie winning the medal will stay with me forever. But coming home to my family in Widnes has been a really welcome chance to calm down and plan for the future.”
The third stage of the Lotto-Decca Tour involves two ascents of the Kapelmur Cobble, infamous as a regular feature in the Tour of Flanders. And Lucy’s training session took in an impressively fast ascent of Billinge’s Shayley Brow, which, with its 14% maximum gradient, is also a regular lung-tester for St Helens pro-rider Jonny McEvoy (Endura Racing) and Liverpool’s Mark McNally (An Post Sean-Kelly), regular winter training partners of Lucy when the three friends are home from racing and training abroad.
And her work on Shayley Brow went to good use in the tough final stage of the Lotto-Decca on Monday. Chasing an early break, she pulled hard at the front of the bunch for much of the stage, providing strong support for her team’s sprinter, Holland’s Kirsten Wild, who narrowly missed a podium placing with a bravely contested, but frustrating, fourth general classification position.
In career terms, Lucy’s next major target is to negotiate a new professional contract, having learned recently that her current team, AA Drinks-Leontein.nl, (which also includes Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley and GB National Road Race winner, Sharon Laws on its team-list) will lose its sponsor at the end of the season.
Eyeing a number of options for 2013, she is hoping for greater interest in women’s cycling and the personal opportunity to switch from her current, mainly support, position to a team role in which she will be able to chase her own podium places more regularly.