Cycling fans in Somerset might be a little disappointed that Britain's greatest cycling spectacle will be by-passing our county this year, but a short trip beyond the borders to either Wales or Devon will ensure they need not miss out on the Tour of Britain altogether.
On Friday 14th September, Stage Six rolls out from Powis Castle, Welshpool, and ends in Caerphilly, 55 miles north of Somerset, at the estimated time of 14:48.
Those based in the south of Somerset may opt to view Stage Seven on Saturday 15th September, which starts at Barnstaple at 10:15 and finishes at Dartmouth around 14:09.
Competitors to watch out for:
The riders taking part this year come from 21 countries. Since this July, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and fellow Brit and multiple stage winner Mark Cavendish are now household names.
Other notable riders from the 100 starters include:
Sky Pro Cycling: Bernhard Eisel - Cav's 'shepherd' in the mountains and seasoned Grand Tour professional.
Endura Racing: Jonathan Tiernan-Locke - Winner of the 2011 Tour of Britain King of the Mountains (KoM) classification and fifth overall.
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling: Boy Van Poppel - Son of multiple stage winner Jean-Paul van Poppel, came second in Stage One this year and third in Stage Two taking the leader's Gold Jersey.
Euskaltel Euskadi: Samuel Sanchez - Gold medal winner in 2008 Olympics Men's Road Race and riding his 12th season with team Euskaltel Euskadi. He was forced to withdraw from this year's Tour de France following a major crash on stage eight.
Liquigas Cannondale: Ivan Basso - holder of two Giro d'Italia race (GC) wins in '06 & 2010 and an additional eight stage wins
Team IG - Sigma Sport: Simon Richardson - From Shepton Mallet
Rapha Condor: Kristian House - British National Road Race Champion 2009
STAGE SIX, FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER - POWIS CASTLE, TO CAERPHILLY
Caerphilly will once again provide one of the most iconic, and toughest finishes to The Tour of Britain.
This year The Tour climbs Caerphilly Mountain twice, meaning the race will also pass through the town centre twice, presenting double the viewing opportunities for spectators.
Details on town centre car parking can be found here.
Car parking on Caerphilly Mountain is very limited and there will be no parking on the climb or descent. It is recommended that spectators park in Caerphilly and walk the short distance (approx. 2km) from the town centre to the climb, or to the finish on Crescent Road, via Caerphilly Castle.
To find out more about the local area, please see Visit Caerphilly.
STAGE SEVEN, SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER - BARNSTAPLE TO DARTMOUTH
Barnstaple is celebrating the Tour of Britain visiting the town with a full weekend of cycling activities planned.
For more information on what to see & do in the area please see Visit Devon.
If you are planning to cycle / drive to Dartmoor to watch the race, you can park up and watch the race at the following locations:
- • Pork Hill (Grid Ref SX 530 751) – watch the second SKODA KoM as the riders climb towards the finish at Merrivale
- • Princetown High Moorland Visitor Centre car park (Grid Ref SX 589 734) – enjoy a great day out and watch the cyclists all in one place
- • Dartmeet (Grid ref SX 672 732) – watch the third and final SKODA KoM as the riders climb towards the finish at Coffin Stone
- • Ashburton (Grid ref SX 754 699)
- • Buckfastleigh (Grid ref SX 738 659)
Organisers ask that you please park responsibly using designated car parks and lay-bys.
The popularity of road cycling has increased exponentially in recent years following Britain's growing success in the sport. Mark Cavendish, 2011 Road Race World Champion and winner of the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award enthused:
"I don't think there has been a Tour de France winner here at The Tour of Britain and to have Brad along with myself in the rainbow jersey in The Tour of Britain, and there are four of us in the team that have completed the Tour this year, the crowds are going to be incredible and the race is always spectacular. The amount it has grown is phenomenal and we're looking forward to celebrating the growth of cycling in the race."
So while this year fans of the sport are prepared to cover the miles to witness the race live, hopes are high that Somerset County Council will find some flexibility in the budget to entice the Tour back into Somerset for 2013.