The full route of the Tour of Britain 2012 has now been revealed, with a Grand Depart in Ipswich, stages through Nottingham and Carlisle and a Welsh stage tackling Caerphilly Mountain. Twice.
The ToB will also visit Devon for the penultimate day (shaking up the final weekend) with Guildford hosting the finish.
The 2012 ToB, running from Sunday September 9th to Sunday 16th, has been touted as 'the hardet yet' by the organisers.
Stage One: Sunday September 9th - Ipswich to Norfolk Showground
Stage Two: Monday September 10th - Nottingham to Knowsley
Stage Three: Tuesday September 11th - Jedburgh to Dumfries
Stage Four: Wednesday September 12th - Carlisle to Blackpool
Stage Five: Thursday September 13th - The Stoke-on-Trent Stage
Stage Six: Friday September 14th - Welshpool to Caerphilly
Stage Seven: Saturday September 15th - Barnstaple to Dartmouth
Stage Eight: Sunday September 16th - Reigate to Guildford
2012 sees the ToB begin in East Anglia for the first time, with Ipswich hosting the Grand Depart. Stage One takes The Tour through Suffolk and Norfolk to the finish on the Norfolk Showground outside of Norwich. Stage Two is set to appeal to the sprinters, starting from Nottingham Castle and heading across the Peak District National Park to Knowsley on Merseyside for a stage finish at Knowsley Safari Park (alongside the elephant enclosure).
Scotland hosts Stage Three, travelling from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders to Dumfries, where riders will tackle three circuits of a finish loop in the Dumfries and Galloway countryside. The ToB then returns to Carlisle for the first time since 2005 for the start of Stage Four. 156 kilometres of Cumbrian and Lancastrian roads follow, taking the leg through Kendal on its way to a Blackpool Promenade finish in the shadow of Blackpool Tower.
Over 2,000 metres of climbing awaits riders in Stage Five, starting from Stoke-on-Trent’s Trentham Estate and finishing once again in the City Centre, on the way tackling Cannock Chase, the Staffordshire Moorlands and Gun Hill.
Stage Six will see the riders return to the National Trust’s Powis Castle in Welshpool for a long stage down through mid-Wales to Caerphilly, where riders will tackle Caerphilly Mountain twice before the finish outside Caerphilly Castle.
Devon will be the ToB's penultimate stage in 2012, with a cross-county stage heading from Barnstaple on the county’s north coast to Dartmouth on the south coast via Dartmoor. With barely a metre of flat throughout the 170 kilometres the Devon stage is set once again, say the organisers, to be decisive in the battle for the ŠKODA King of the Mountains Jersey, as well as the overall battle.
Surrey’s final leg will see riders head from Reigate, through the finish line in Guildford and out onto the Surrey Hills. With the final climb of the 2012 Tour coming in the last 25 kilometres of racing, plus the uphill, cobbled drag to the finish line, spectators can expect the destination of the IG Markets Gold Jersey to remain undecided until the end.
IG Markets, continue as Partners of the Race sponsoring the IG Markets Gold Jersey of race leader, won in 2011 by Rabobank’s Lars Boom.
IG MD Tim Hughes said: “We were delighted with the success of The Tour of Britain last year. The large crowds at the side of the road showed how cycling has captured the imagination of this country. This year’s Tour is huge opportunity as the first major sporting event in this country after the Olympics and Paralympics to capitalise on the nation’s enthusiasm for sport and for cycling.”
Race director Mick Bennett added: “We would like to thank our many partners, venues and stakeholders for their involvement in the planning of the 2012 Tour of Britain and are excited to finally be able to reveal our plans to our supporters.
“The route of this year’s Tour is certainly our toughest yet, and to coin a phrase a race of two halves. I am sure it will make for some spectacular action this September, and look forward to seeing bigger crowds than ever at the roadside in what is British sport’s biggest year.”
Amateur cyclists will have the chance to experience The Tour of Britain first hand, with five Tour Rides supporting the elite race between July and the end of September.
According to the organisers, The Tour of Britain is now the UK’s biggest professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event. Ranked at the 2.1 level by the UCI.