The 2005 Tour of Britain was unveiled in the heart of Central London this morning by race directors, Tony Doyle and Mick Bennett. In front of an invited audience at the seat of the Mayor of London, the impressive City Hall on the banks of the river Thames, the route of the 2005 edition of the revived race was revealed.
The six-day race begins in Glasgow on Tuesday, August 30, and climaxes in Westminster on the afternoon of Sunday, September 4. In between, the race makes its way through the Scottish Borders, the Lake District and the Peak District, before two criterium races on the final weekend, the first in
central Birmingham and the final stage in central London.
Stage one will take the 16 teams from Glasgow to Castle Douglas, on a 114-mile route. After a transfer to Carlisle, the second stage of 100 miles finishes in Blackpool, while stage three, from Leeds to Sheffield,
climbs both Holme Moss and Snake Pass on a hilly 104-mile route.
The sprinters can be expected to shine on the fourth stage, of 115 miles, from Buxton to Nottingham, and the final two days will see the two city centre races in Birmingham and London.
With plenty of support from London bodies and presumably those of all the local authorities concerned, the 2005 Tour of Britain will hope to build on the success of last year's race, which, despite some initial glitches, managed to attract big crowds to the roadside.
So what's missing? Well, in the spirit of constructive criticism, the absence of a time trial in favour of two city centre criteriums, however spectacular the Westminster climax might be, is a pity. And the
continuing emphasis on finishes in busy city centres on weekday afternoons will also give rise to concern over policing and traffic issues among some onlookers.
But those criticisms are perhaps churlish; the Tour of Britain is a welcome and necessary addition to the British sporting calendar. There is now a platform for growth and it is to be hoped that in future years as the
race develops, the race direction will become more adventurous and design more exciting routes. The Deutschland Tour in Germany is a perfect example
of a race that has followed this pattern of steady growth.
For the moment it seems, summit finishes in Snowdonia or the Peak District remain a long way off. Meanwhile, for the British road racing fan, it is a
case of be thankful for what we've got...
Stage 1, Tuesday Aug 30: Glasgow-Castle Douglas, 114 miles
Stage 2, Wednesday Aug 31: Carlisle-Blackpool, 100 miles
Stage 3, Thursday Sept 1: Leeds-Sheffield, 104 miles
Stage 4, Friday Sept 2: Buxton-Nottingham, 115 miles
Stage 5, Saturday Sept 3: Birmingham circuit, 35 miles
Stage 6, Sunday Sept 4: London circuit, 35 miles