Tour of Britain preview – route and riders to watch

The Tour of Britain started today. There are eight stages.

  1. Ipswich to Norfolk Showground (199.6km)
  2. Nottingham to Knowsley (177.8km)
  3. Jedburgh to Dumfries (161.4km)
  4. Carlisle to Blackpool (156km)
  5. Stoke (146.9km)
  6. Welshpool to Caerphilly (189.8km)
  7. Barnstaple to Dartmouth (170.7km)
  8. Reigate to Guildford (147.7km)

Highlights

Stage 2 has three first category climbs, but they’re early on and the route then heads into Cheshire. Coincidentally, much of this part of the route covers exactly the same roads I use for my longer rides. It is proper flat.

Stage 3 from Jedburgh to Dumfries should be a good one. It features three categorised climbs and explores some fairly remote roads. I can’t help but think that more could have been made of the Scottish countryside though. The landscape can be immense and there must be some great climbs up there. It would have been a great way to show off that part of the world.

Stage 4 is probably the most disappointing. It avoids all the famous Lake District climbs and then steers clear of some excellently nasty stuff around the Forest of Bowland as well.

Stage 5 has three climbs, including Gun Hill, but Stage 6 is probably the most interesting of the race with four first category climbs and some cracking scenery.

Rider to watch – Jonathan Tiernan-Locke

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke won the mountains classification last year and looked good at the start of the season as well, winning two little stage races in the south of France (around other areas I know well and in which I’d love to cycle one day).

The Tour du Haut Var has previously been won by the likes of Tommy Voeckler, Philippe Gilbert, Sylvain Chavanel and Laurent Jalabert, while the Tour Méditerranéen has previously been won by David Moncoutié, Luis Léon Sanchez, Jalabert again and also some bloke called Eddy Merckx.

Good company to keep. Tiernan-Locke rides for Endura Racing at the minute, but he’s probably moving to Team Sky next year. Catch him before he’s super-famous so that you can tell people: “I’d sort of heard of him before he was super-famous.”