We’re just days away from the start of the annual Tour of Britain, the biggest stage race to hit our shores. Kicking off in Wales on September 2nd before concluding with a fast criterium around the streets of London on the 9th, this is set to be one exciting week of racing. Let’s take a look at the key stages and all the big names to keep our eyes on…
The Key Stages
Starting in Pembrey Country Park, Wales, the race will travel to the finishing town of Newport for its first stage. At 175km, this is not a super-long stage, but when you take in all the climbs and the amount of elevation, it will certainly be a tough one. The race will pass through the Brecon Beacons before flying south to Newport where one final, steep kicker lies in wait just 8km before the finish.
Stage two continues with the same kind of rolling parcours, with small sharp climbs littering the route from Cranbrook to Barnstaple. The route resembles that of an Ardennes classic and therefore could provoke some of the one-day specialists to make a big attack, particularly on the final, narrow climb of Challacombe.
Both stage three and four look like simple days for the sprinters, and a chance for the other riders to rest up before the hellish days to come. The Tour of Britain is always open to experimentation and they have yet another, rather malicious invention ready to unveil at the 2018 race – a 14km team time trial up the super steep and narrow Whinlatter Pass. As if that wasn’t enough, stage six will see the race return to Whinlatter to conquer the gruelling pass once again, this time as a tough summit finish to cap off a long day of climbing in the Lake District.
Stage seven’s excursion to Mansfield and stage eight’s speedy, final stage criterium both allow a little bit of respite, but not too much. They’ll both be ridden at pace as the sprinters desperately try to salvage something from this otherwise extremely hilly Tour of Britain route.
Riders to Watch
The defending champion, Lars Boom, will not attend this year’s Tour of Britain, leaving the door wide open for a new champion to pull on the leader’s green jersey, possibly in the shape of his teammate, the Slovenian superstar, Primoz Roglic, who returns after an early exit last year. Second place finisher in 2017, Edvald Boasson Hagen, is also set to make a return, eager to bring home the title this time around.
He’ll face fierce competition however, notably from Quick-Step Floors’ trident of race winners, Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels and Maximilian Schachmann. All three will ride the super-versatile S-Works Tarmac at this race, a bike that won two stages at this year’s Tour de France beneath none other than the French swashbuckler himself, Alaphilippe.
Looking to slay the three-headed Quick-Step beast will be the youngsters from Team Wiggins, the late replacement for the Irish Aqua Blue Sport team after their last-minute withdrawal. Lead by Tom Pidcock, the team has a number of riders that could target a stage win in this race, particularly the hilly, classic-style stages. Both Pidcock and Gabriel Cullaigh will go into these lumpy stages as home favourites and equipped with their speedy Pinarello Dogma F10s. Aboard their distinctive Dogmas and buckets of home road experience, you’d be foolish to count these youngsters out.
Team Sky’s elite pairing of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, five Tour de France yellow jerseys between them, will also come to this race on the hunt for gold. Like Team Wiggins, they’ll rock the Pinarello Dogma F10s and will no doubt prove a force to be reckoned with as the race heads to the mountainous Lake District.
For the sprints, look no further than Quick-Step Floors’ Fernando Gaviria, a two-time stage winner at this summer’s Tour de France aboard the unfathomably quick S-Works Venge. The young Colombian will be a hot favourite to take the dark blue points jersey, equivalent to the Tour de France green jersey or Giro d’Italia ciclamino jersey which he won in 2017. The Tour of Britain points classification jersey is this year sponsored by revolutionary indoor training and cycling computer brand Wahoo Fitness.
This is set to be one thrilling race, if you find yourself near our stores in Chester, we’re only a one to two hour drive from stages 5, 6 and 7. To view the rest of our road bike range, click here.