Tour of Britain route taking shape

US Postal and CSC have confirmed their presence in the Tour of Britain, which has released more deta

US Postal and CSC have confirmed their presence in the Tour of Britain, which has released more deta
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The first detailed information about the route for the Tour of Britain, which takes place on September 1-5, reveals many locations familiar to fans from past editions of the Milk Race, Kellogg's Tour, PruTour and Leeds Classic. The second stage looks particularly tough, taking in as it does several climbs from the Leeds Classic, Britain's one-time World Cup event, with the addition of the crossing of Snake Pass high up in Derbyshire's Dark Peak. Stage one does a wide circuit of Lancashire starting from Manchester's Sports City and finishing on Corporation Street in the same city. Starting at approximately 11 in the morning, the route will include Bury, Ramsbottom, Haslingden, Accrington, Sabden, Nick of Pendle, Clitheroe, Longridge, Elswick, Blackpool, Lytham St. Annes, Freckleton, Preston, Chorley, Belmont, Egerton, and Bury again on the way back into Manchester for 3pm finish. Stage two reprises much of the route of the Leeds Classic. It starts in Leeds' Millennium Square at 10.30-11am, then rolls out through Otley, Ilkley, Cow & Calf, Burley Woodhead, Keighley, Oxenhope Moor, Hebden Bridge, Halifax, Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Holm Moss, Glossop, Snake Pass, Lady Bower Reservoir and finishes at Sheffield Town Hall in Pinstone Street, again at about 3pm. From Sheffield there is a very short transfer to the next morning's start at Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre at 10.30. The route of stage three takes the riders though the Peak District national park and includes Matlock, Matlock Bath, Wirksworth, Carsington Water, Ashbourne, Belper, Duffield, Derby, Swadlincote, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Melbourne, Donnington Park, Diseworth, Loughborough, Woodhouse Eaves, Ansley, Leicester (Abbey Park, Belgrave Road), Syston, Melton Mowbray and Nottingham, where the finish will be on the Victoria Embankment by the Trent at 3-3.30. From the East Midlands the race has a long transfer to South Wales, where stage four starts at the velodrome in Newport on September 4 at 11am. The stage's first circuit takes the riders out from Newport to Cwmbran, Pontypool, Crumlin, Newbridge, Cross Keys, Risca, Tredegar House Country Park, Newport (Southern Relief Road), the velodrome, and the Celtic Manor resort, host of the recent British road championships. There are two more circuits of a course joined from Celtic Manor via Caerleon to Croesyceiliog. The stage finishes at Celtic Manor at 3-3.30. There is another long transfer for the final stage, which takes place on a circuit used in the past by the Kellogg's and PruTour in Westminster. Starting on Whitehall at 2pm, a clockwise circuit runs into Northumberland Avenue, down the Embankment, into Bridge Street and back down Whitehall. The finish is scheduled for 3.30. The organisers have also confirmed that US Postal will be sending a team to the race. It will be led by Viatcheslav Ekimov, who won a stage of the PruTour in 1998. Bjarne Riis' CSC team will also be appearing and will feature a hig-quality line-up topped by Italians Ivan Basso and Michele Bartoli. Other teams confirmed for the 2.3-category race include Lotto-Domo, Roger Hammond's MrBookmaker.com-Palmans outfit, Bradley Wiggins Crdit Agricole team, Chocolade Jacques, Panaria from Italy, and the American Navigators team.

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