Here’s your guide to where to watch the racing
29 August: Scotland, Glasgow to Castle Douglas, 162km
The Tour will roll out from Glasgow Green at 10:15am. Racing proper begins after a 4.6km neutralised section, and the race will head out along the A749. The first sprint will be contested at Cumnock Business Park, and the riders are expected to reach the sprint at about midday. The route follows the B471 towards Dalmellington, and it’s here that the first King of the Mountains points will be awarded. The peloton is expected about 12.20pm. Riders will be grabbing a drink on the move at the feed station located at Carsphairn, before heading up Shiel Hill on the B7000 – the site of the second King of the Mountains stretch.
The race will pass through here around 1:00pm. New Galloway hosts the second sprint of the day. Get to Kitty’s Tea Room early for a spot of lunch and watch the race stream past at around 1:25pm. The third and final sprint of this opening stage of the Tour of Britain will take place in Kirkcudbright opposite the Body and Soul gym, at approximately 2.10pm. Immediately after the sprint there’s another KoM climb, on the B727 near Gelston. The race will finish in Castle Douglas at the corner of Market Hill and King Street from 2:35pm onwards.
Pedal for Scotland – 27 August
Pedal for Scotland is Scotland’s largest mass-participation cycle ride. The organisers are expecting up to 3,000 cyclists on the day for a 50 mile ride across the central belt of Scotland. The ride starts in Glasgow and finishes in Edinburgh. Now in its eighth year, the event has raised over £300,000 for various charities, and 2006 is likely to be a record-breaking year with the extra pro. le of the ToB boosting numbers. You can enter the ride online at this site.
Glasgow Grand Prix – 28 August
The Scottish stage of the Tour of Britain will follow the Glasgow Grand Prix, part of British Cycling’s elite Criterium series. The event will take place in George Square.
30 August: Blackpool to Liverpool, 160km
The Northwest stage of the Tour of Britain will start at The Sandcastle on Blackpool’s famous beachfront at 10:30am. If you want to watch the first sprint of this Northwest stage, make sure you get to Pilling, which is near the Gales Garage, as this is where the riders will pass through at around 11:00am as they compete for the Sprint title. The race will cross the M6 before riders face the first tough King of the Mountains section. Watch them climb a short section at Blow Top at around 11:35am.
Hot on the heels of Blow Top, another King of the Mountains stage follows at around 11:50am as the race passes through the Trough of Bowland. Riders will be grabbing a drink on the move at the feed station at Dunsop before heading up the B6478 into Waddington – the site of the third King of the Mountains stretch. The race will pass through around 12:10pm. From here, the race heads for the coast again, and Southport is the site of the second sprint of the stage at about 2:00pm. Thornton hosts the third sprint of the day at about 2:30pm before the race crosses the line outside Liverpool’s Town Hall at about 2:45pm – by which stage it will have completed a tough 160kms of cycling.
Ride the Lights – 29 August
On Tuesday 29 August the Promenade will be closed from 8pm until 10pm giving cyclists a unique double: the opportunity to ride along a car-free Blackpool Promenade; and a sneak preview of the lights which aren’t ceremonially switched on until a few days later. As well as looking at the lights the organisers are encouraging people to add to the atmosphere by illuminating their bikes and creating their own light show. Barriers and stewards will be in place to ensure that the Promenade remains traffic-free between Starr Gate and Gynn Square. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
31 August: Bradford to Sheffield, 173km
Yorkshire hosts the third stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, and the day’s racing looks set to be the toughest stage of the race. The day’s racing starts at Bradford’s Centenary Square at 10:15am. After the neutralised section, riders will climb towards Beckwithshaw on the B6161 on the first King of the Mountains section at around 10:45am. Catch the first sprint of the day as the race heads through Harrogate. Riders will dash past the church on the A6040 from 11am. From Harrogate, the race will turn for Wetherby and Tadcaster.
Millhouse Green hosts the second sprint of the day from 1:30pm, and two KoM climbs follow in quick succession as the race crosses the stunning Bradfield Moors. It is here that the Tour of Britain takes in The Strines area of the Moors for the first time. There are two big hills here. Between 1:50pm and 2:15pm, riders will be battling up the taxing climbs of this wonderful landscape as they chase polka dot jersey points.
Hathersage hosts the third sprint of the day at about 2:25pm before the race turns towards home. Riders will cross the line at Pinstone Street in Sheffield from about 2:45pm.
1 September: Wolverhampton to Birmingham
Wolverhampton hosts a stage of the Tour of Britain for the first time this year. Start time should be around 10am (TBC), but check local press or the Tour of Britain website for exact time and location. From the city, riders head northwest to Shifnal and Newport, before sprinting through the picturesque villages of Gnossal and Haughton. Riders pass through Milford, which is home to Mammoth Bike Shop, where owner Gary Ford (a former Olympic mountain biker) will provide activities and refreshments for spectators. The race then passes through the grounds of the beautiful National Trust property of Shugborough, with its wonderful gardens and a model farm. King of the Mountains is contested in the stunning surroundings of Cannock Chase, before riders head via the outskirts of Lich. eld and Walsall to a Birmingham city centre finish.
2 September: Rochester to Canterbury, 155km
The Tour of Britain heads to the Garden of England for its penultimate stage, paving the way for the 2007 Tour de France which will also visit the region. The day’s racing starts in the grounds of historic Rochester Castle, with riders setting o. at 10:30am. The race proper will begin at about 10:50am at the Medway Gate sign before the race passes over the M2 between junctions two and three.
Picking up the A228 towards Paddock Wood, the riders will begin the stage’s first King of the Mountains section at around 11:35am. There’s a second KoM climb at Goudhurst from about 11:50am. The first sprint of the day will pass the White Lion pub in Tenterden from about 12:20pm, so try and grab a seat and spot the yellow jersey as he flies past on his way to Hamstreet and Ruckinge.
After Hythe, riders will start climbing past the Sene Valley Golf Club in the third King of the Mountains section of the day at about 1:05pm. Dover hosts the second sprint of the day. Riders will speed through the main street from about 1:40pm before heading to Densole where there’s another sprint from about 2:00pm. Heading up the Roman road towards Canterbury, riders will arrive in the historic pilgrim destination from about 2:35pm.
3 September: Greenwich to The Mall, 82km
England’s capital provides the spectacular backdrop for the final stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, with the race starting in historic Greenwich at 2:30pm. The riders will pass through Evelyn Street at 2:35pm before heading o. on an 82km race for the final finish line.
The route will take in Rotherhithe and Jamaica Road before the peloton reaches Tower Bridge, the stunning location of the first sprint of this final stage, with riders crossing from about 2:40pm. From here they will pass through to Eastcheap, Cannon Street and Ludgate Hill before leaving the City behind and entering Westminster, where they will race along the Victoria Embankment, The Strand and Kingsway.
After Regent’s Park the riders take in the hillier roads of Primrose Hill and Chalk Farm, before a challenging King of the Mountains section at Highgate Hill. Watch out for the first riders climbing past at about 3:10pm.Then it’s back to Westminster and roads around Hyde Park and Green Park, before the exciting final section of the Tour of Britain. The race will end with a 20-lap chase around The Mall. Laps one and ten will mark the second and third sprints of the day, at about 3:35pm and 4:00pm. The winner is expected to finish at about 4:30pm.
The event will be televised on BBC Grandstand on Sunday 3 September 2006, with a review of stages one to five, and live coverage of the finish of the final stage. There’s a wealth of other activities on the day, including the Sport England Junior Trophy, a Go Ride event, the TfL Junior Women’s Grand Prix, the Bob Chicken London Grand Prix, and the Hand Cyclist World Cup.