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This year's Tour of Britain, which starts in Glasgow on August 29 and finishes in central London on September 3, is set to conclude with an expanded final stage through the British capital and including some of the roads that are due to feature in next year's Tour de France prologue. In between Scotland and London, the race covers much of the terrain seen in previous editions of the race, with a stage in the North-West, another in Yorkshire, a third in the West Midlands and then a stage on the Saturday in the South-East.
Although final race details have yet to be fully confirmed, the event starts, as it did last year, with a stage from Glasgow to Castle Douglas on August 29. This comes at the conclusion of a three-day festival of cycling in Scotland's biggest city. August 30's stage in the North-West does not include a pass through the Lake District as it did last year, but could still take in some very hilly terrain between the start in Blackpool and the finish in Liverpool.
The third stage is once again set to take place in Yorkshire, although details of the route have still to be finalised. It is the same story for September 1's stage in the West Midlands, although this will not be a short time trial in Birmingham city centre as it was last year. In fact, there is currently no plan for a time trial in this year's event.
The hole left by the East Midlands has been filled by the South-East, with a stage from Rochester to Canterbury, which will, of course host the finish of 2007 Tour de France's first road stage.
After Canterbury, the race heads into London for the traditional conclusion, but not the traditional Westminster course. This year's 80km final stage will start in Greenwich and finish on The Mall after 20 laps of a circuit around St James's Park, going down Horseguards' Parade, Birdcage Walk and passing in front of Buckingham Palace.
Prior to the finishing circuit the riders will go over Tower Bridge, pass St Paul's Cathedral, go up one side of Regent's Park and through Camden to reach Hampstead Heath before heading south again down through St John's Wood and the other side of Regent's Park and on to Marble Arch, then through Hyde Park and Hyde Park Corner to reach the final circuit.
"By hosting fantastic events like the Tour of Britain we are showcasing the UK's talent in holding world class sporting occasions," said UK minister of sport Richard Caborn. "This is especially important as we prepare to welcome the Tour de France in 2007 and the London 2012 Olympics.
"The Tour of Britain gives people across the country the opportunity to watch world-class elite athletes performing at their very best. I hope this will inspire more and more people to take up cycling and help carry on Britain's proud tradition of producing outstanding cycling champions."
The launch at London's Lancaster House was also attended by Cofidis's Bradley Wiggins, who is looking forward to riding again at the Tour of Britain. "London is a spectacular finish for this year's Tour of Britain. The site of the world's finest cyclists surging through the streets of London will be an inspiration to Londoners, young and old, to get on their bikes," said the Olympic pursuit champion.
The race will feature 16 six-rider teams, with T-Mobile almost certain to start. Further details on the race and associated events can be found at the official website - www.tourofbritain.co.uk
Expanded London stage for Tour of BritainClose
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM