With the race now well underway, British Cycling’s Cycle Sport Membership Director and Olympic, World and Commonwealth medallist Jonny Clay, tells us how the jewel in British stage racing’s crown has gone from strength to strength, and what we can look forward to this year.
The Tour of Britain started this weekend and after Jonathan Tiernan-Locke became the first British winner of the race in 2012 since Chris Lillywhite in 1993, hopes are high for more British success at the UK’s flagship cycle race this year.
Ever since the race was re-introduced to the cycling calendar in 2004 after a five year absence, the Tour has continued to grow in popularity amongst supporters and riders alike.
With the 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and sprint great Mark Cavendish just two of the big names in the peloton, it’s clear the Tour of Britain is one of the most hotly contested stage races in cycling’s global calendar
From humble beginings
The Tour of Britain is a race with a fantastic history. First ridden in 1945 the race gained high profile status when it became known as the Milk Race between 1958 and 1993. Notable past winners include Robert Millar and Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Manager, Shane Sutton.
It’s fantastic to see the calibre of rider getting stronger year on year and it would be great to see another British winner of the event in 2013.
Cycling in this country has never been more popular, after the incredible success that our riders have enjoyed in the past two Olympic and Paralympic Games and the achievements of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to give us two consecutive British winners of the Tour de France.
British Cycling continues to go from strength to strength. Since London 2012, our membership has grown at an incredible rate reaching 80,000 members for the first time in our history – over 50% year on year growth. This growth is reflected in attendance and coverage of events like the Tour of Britain.
This year’s event
The race started in Scotland on Sunday the riders will pass through the rolling hills of Cumbria, Stoke and Wales over eight gruelling stages before finishing in London on Sunday.
With a clear focus on the overall title, Sir Bradley stamped his mark on the race during yesterday’s time trial which will also be good preparation for his world championship tilt, although he facesstrong competition from fellow British rider and national time trial champion Alex Dowsett.
After winning three stages in the event last year Mark Cavendish will be aiming to add to his already extensive collection of wins to round off what has been another great year for the ‘Manx Missile’. Coverage of this year’s event will be the best yet and British Cycling’s website has previews and in-depth reports after each day’s stage. You can also follow all the live action on twitter via @BritishCycling and @TourofBritain.
ITV4 and Eurosport will continue their excellent recent coverage of cycling with live coverage of the stages and highlights programmes later in the day, which can only help bring the sport to an ever increasing audience.
Looking to 2014
Our plans for next year’s Tour of Britain are even more ambitious.: In July we announced that SweetSpot will continue as British Cycling’s delivery partner for the Tour of Britain after a bidding process and we’re now putting in place plans which will see the race become a cornerstone of the international cycling calendar.
Back to this year though and let’s hope for a great event to round off what has been another fantastic year for cycling in this country.
Images by British Cycling on Flickr, Mark Cavendish image by Vaughn Ridley/swpix.com for British Cycling. All rights reserved.