The final stage of the Tour of Britain will return to central London this year, with a finish in Whitehall on Sunday 18 September.
Newham in London’s docklands played host to the final stage of the 2010 edition – won by HTC-Columbia’s Michael Albasini – following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the capital.
The criterium will follow the route which proved so successful in the 2008 and 2009 race, passing some of the city’s major landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The move will allow spectators the chance to see some of the world’s top riders compete in the streets of London just a year before the Olympics.
Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of SweetSpot Group – the race organisers – emphasised the importance of moving the finale for 2011. “As Britain’s biggest professional cycle race and this country’s largest free-to-spectate sporting event it is important that we finish with an iconic finale, and as we showed in 2008 and 2009 there is no better place to hold The Tour of Britain than at the heart of London,” he said.
On both previous occasions, the race has been a battle of the sprinters and Race Director Mick Bennett believes this year will be no different. “As previous years have shown the circuit we are using is perfectly suited to the sprinters, so I expect to see the stage again culminate in a bunch sprint,” he said. “In previous years riders of the calibre of Mark Cavendish, Matt Goss and Andre Greipel have all won sprint stages, so I’m sure that 2011 will be no different.
“With the World Championships in Copenhagen just a week after The Tour of Britain, this will be a dress rehearsal for some of the world’s top sprinters to go head-to-head before the Worlds. The course in Denmark looks to be suited to the sprinters, so there is a very real chance that we could see a World Champion in waiting winning in London at The Tour of Britain.
And for the third consecutive year, members of the public will get the chance to ride the same route just hours before the professional race in The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride. The ride aims to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the charity, and details on how to sign-up will be available soon at www.tourride.co.uk.
Further details of the route will be announced at the race launch in April. Visit www.tourofbritain.com for more details.