TalkingShop: Tour of Britain Route & Technical manager Andy Hawes


To find out what the route for the 2013 Tour of Britain will be like, who better to talk to than the person mapping each of the stages, Andy Hawes

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Tour of Britain Route & Technical manager Andy Hawes has been in the role since 2010 after a long history with the race. He worked as a volunteer on the event in 2006 taking a week off from his work at a large city law firm before his role became more full time on the race.

Made redundant in 2009, Andy hounded Mick Bennett, the race director, for a role on the race and here he is nowadays doing tens of thousands of kilometres documenting the stages.


So if anyone knows the course for the 2013 Tour of Britain, it will be Andy Hawes. He explained how pretty much after the race finishes in September, they start looking at what stages they are going to have for the next year. “I start plotting the routes electronically in October and November and by early January, have a good idea where we’re going to go” he explained the race launch.

Andy explained how early on in the process, much of the first driving of the stage routes will be done by him on his own but if he is able to get the police to accompany him and Steve Baxter who does the risk assessments, he will. “If I can get them on board for the first run through it’s all the better for everyone”.

Andy says the number of times they drive a route will vary depending on the complexity of a stage route. “At a minimum, we’ll drive it three times but usually its four or five times. The first time we drive the course, we’re looking for the risk assessment and the sporting side. On that first drive, we’re very busy in the car because we have a GPS plotting system mapping it against the maps I have done.”

“We’ll be taking notes for the ETAs (estimated time of arrivals) as well. Steve Baxter will be noting down every junction, every bollard, every zebra crossing and every piece of road furniture on the route. It is amazing what you miss on that first drive round on the route! The first time for example it might feel very busy and you’ll think we’ll have to do some work to get the race through here but the second time, it might not look so busy.”

Video Highlights of the Tour of Britain

The 2013 Edition
Talking to Andy about the 2013 edition, there are some stages that stand out like the ‘10’ on Merseyside. “Its going to be very fast” says Andy. “We went for the 16 kilometre, 10 mile distance for various reasons (10th Anniversary) but more than anything because that’s such a tradition in British cycling, the ‘10’. It will be great for the club and young cyclists coming into the sport to talk about and aspire to. In some places, you will get to see them two or three times as they go out and come back.”

“The course has a slight rise in it but nothing to trouble these guys and then there’s a slight downhill as well. The highways agency have been great and will be closing a junction of the motorway (M57) so we can have the full road closure in place for the duration of the race. Usually with a road stage, we run a rolling road closure and that means a closure of between 15 and 30 minutes at any one time but with the time trial, we have a full road closure from around 10am until 3 pm.”


The perfect ’10’ – a Time Trial on Merseyside for stage 3

Summit Finish
The Tour of Britain also has a new first, a summit finish. A popular feature in any stage race, this one is not on top of an Alpine pass but it will be tough says Andy. “It is in the middle of Dartmoor (Nr Bovey Tracey), four kilometres up and the views from the top are stunning. This will be our first summit finish and it will have a worthy winner that is for sure. There will be a road closure in place for the final section, 6k in all.”

Other Highlights
“This year we have some great new venues at finishes and starts and with that come new routes and opportunities” Andy explained. “Devon is brilliant and the roads are always great and in tip top condition and the North Wales stage will be one to watch. The finish of that stage is going to be stunning and I hope the weather is with us that day as the shots the guys will get for the winning picture will be fantastic.”

The final 8.8 kilometre stage in London is pretty much the same as the one in 2011 which followed a time trial in the morning. The riders will start on Whitehall and race out to Tower Hill and then back along the Embankment. It is says Andy, a traditional course for the race in the capital, one the race has used in the past quite a few times and one that ticks a lot of boxes. It follows another stage in Surrey which saw such huge crowds flock to Reigate and Guildford as well as many many places along the route.

“There will be fireworks early on in this one” says Andy. “All the major climbs are in the first 80k so there will be plenty to go for in the KoM competition and we have some good climbs in Surrey like Crocknorth Road again which we used last year and that comes in the first 20k. We’re also going up to Cold Harbour out of Dorking and that is in the first 50k. The perianal favourite is also on the route, that of Bar Hatch Lane and we hope we get the crowds we had there last year.”


Crash! Who’s there to sort it out but Mr Fixit, Andy Hawes

Work in progress
There is loads more work to be done though says Andy. “At the minute we only have first draft ETA’s and Risk Assessments so I will need to be out on the road again the Tuesday after Easter and we’re away for the whole week doing stages 1, 2 and 3. We have some changes to stage 4 and so we have to go and look at those so there is plenty to do. The Tour Series is also in the middle of that and I am the stage finish manager for the Tour of Britain too so I have all the meetings with the local authorities so they go smoothly.”

Busy indeed!
When asked for his own highlights of the stage routes, Andy looks to those in Scotland as a favourite. “Some of the greatest stages I have been involved in have been the Scottish ones. As a cyclist myself for 26 years, if I could take my bike and ride any particular stage, it would be last years Scottish stage, Jedburgh to Dumfries. It was stunning in every way.”


The Surrey stage in 2012 on a Sunday — will it be bigger on a Saturday!

“We get used to the traffic in the south so when we were up in Scotland and there was none, it was just amazing. But then the Devon stages are stunning too. The one into Dartmouth for example. I remember going to look at that for the first time and thinking the descent was the steepest I’d seen in my life. But the more I drove it, the less I saw it as a problem. That had to be one of the greatest finishes of the Tour”.

“Caerphilly (below) is also fantastic. I use the images I have from that when I am talking to new areas and show them some of the crowds we get on Caerphilly Mountain because it’s a unique set of people who get on that mountain in all sorts of getups. I was in North Wales this week and showed them those pictures and they were like wow…


More Video of the Tour of Britain
(“It Ain’t About Cav” by Benedict Campbell)

You get the feeling talking to Andy, every stage has its highlights and more often than not, it’s the huge crowds that help make every stage a memorable one as well as the lengths people go to in order to make their stage, the best.

So finally, we had to ask cycling fan Andy Hawes, where does he feel the crucial stages will be for the race when it comes to settling the overall besides the time trial which is always an opportunity to gain some seconds on a rival.

“I think if its not the Caerphilly stage, it will be the one in Devon. The stage through Cumbria comes very early in the race and everybody will be strong and up for riding and while we have a different route to Caerphilly, there are still two accents of the mountain and that will be one of the toughest stages”.

So there you have it, the Tour of Britain stages from some one who will be driving them a lot in the next six months with the final ones a month before on the same day the stage will take place, leaving nothing to chance before the riders come along and entertain the country yet again with the greatest race in Britain.


Andy likes the cobbles but usually watching bike races over them, not fixing them without getting run over!


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