Feature – 2015 Tour of Britain Route


Talking to team manager John Herety and ‘route master’ for the Friends Life Tour of Britain Andy Hawes about course for the 2015 edition of this great race

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Feature – 2015 Tour of Britain Route


In a glitzy launch at Wembley outside the royal box no less, the Friends Life 2015 Tour of Britain was launched at the start of the year with many of the managers from the British teams attending as well as the person who is the Route & Technical manager and drives the route of all the Sweetspot races, Andy Hawes.

One of those team managers was John Herety, who as a rider rode the National Tour when it was known as the Milk Race and who has had a team in every Tour of Britain since its rebirth in 2004. John is probably the most successful team manager of a British based team as well as one of the most successful British riders in the history of the sport and after race director Mick Bennett had talked about the route at the launch, VeloUK spoke to John.

“It’s going to be an extremely tough one, the toughest one we have ever had I think” he says. “The increase in the distance of the stages is significant for the British teams where it’s not an everyday occurrence for us to ride those distances”.

Last year, the Tour had a 140 mile stage which John says his riders coped with. “A one off long stage like that is fine but when you have them on consecutive days coupled with the tough terrain, it’s going to be tough for the British riders”.


This is going back a while (2005)! John Herety in charge of a GB team at the Tour of Britain with the likes of Ed Clancy, Roger Hammond, Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas

John explained how the status of the race has gone up over the years and the race is getting better teams and more importantly, teams that want to race. “The organisers can make a course as tough as they want but it’s the riders who will decide if they are going to race it or not” says John.

“That said, I’d be surprised seeing where they are going, that there isn’t some good aggressive racing in the Tour of Britain. The course lends itself to riders who want to attack giving them plenty of opportunity to do so.”

“The fact it is still six riders is good because that makes it more difficult to control. We are now going to have to look at it in more detail and make sure we’re equipped to cope with that. I don’t think there is a lot for sprinters there because of the terrain and I think I might need climbing legs more than sprinting legs in my team”.

John says he’s pleased the organisers Sweetspot are finding new stage starts and finishes as well. “The rumour is that towns are now fighting to get those starts and finishes which is a good thing for the future”.

For John though, providing his team gets selected which it has since the race started in 2004, selecting six riders out of 14 means making tough choices. “We have a policy for riders who sign that they will all get a chance during the year as there is enough stage racing to go round. I will not select a team based only on the form of a rider, except for the Tour of Britain. For that everyone, knows they have to fight for their place and it means tough choices”.

Longest route yet
The race features three stages over 200 kilometres and overall, is said to be the longest of all the editions of the Tour of Britain. Some of this may be down to giving riders the distance to prepare for the Road Worlds a few weeks later.

In 2014, the event saw two riders go on to win World titles, Bradley Wiggins (Time Trial) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Road Race). Who we see race the 2015 edition is too early to tell but the race has many firsts this year and one of them is a Grand Depart in Wales.

Stage One Sunday 6 September Beaumaris, Anglesey to Wrexham, 177km
This will see the riders start opposite the Castle at Beamaris with beautiful views across the straight to Bangor. The race will head due north out of the town and within the neutralised section, is a 20% climb within in the first two or three k.”

Ouch, a sharp welcome to Britain message from the Tour of Britain!


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Helping to guide us around the stages is Andy Hawes, the Route & Technical manager. “We do around 30k on Anglesey which is absolutely stunning and the race will certainly showcase the island. We then drop down to the Menai straight and across the old suspension bridge (1836) which is 300 metre long.”

The stage will take in the Pen-y-Pass pass again but from the other direction whilst the climb out Llanrwst is the same they have descended in past years. “We have tried to use roads that we haven’t used before prior to picking up some familiar roads at Ruthin and the run in to Wrexham.”

The last climb, explained Andy, is a long way from the finish so he feels there will be time for the sprinter teams to get organised and bring the race together for a bunch kick.

Stage Two Monday 7 September Clitheroe to Colne, 162km
“It really is an Ardennes classic this one” says Andy. “We were asked to keep it within the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and we’ve done that avoiding some pretty major trunk routes.”

The stage will see an uphill start for them climbing out of Clithero and on to the base of the Nick o Pendle climb within the first 10k.”We are going up the easy side and following that taking in some fantastic scenery” says Andy .


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“They are great racing roads and the final climb comes with around 30 kilometres left to race before an uphill finish into Colne. It could be a bunch sprint but it will be a bunch of strong riders because it’s a pretty tough stage.”

Stage Three Tuesday 8 September Cockermouth to Floors Castle, Kelso, 216km
“This is probably the most picturesque of all the stages this year” says Andy. “We are using roads we have used before but also roads that have never featured in the modern Tour of Britain”.

The route designers have also found a cobbled section, around 700 metres of proper cobbles although not as big as some on the race this year. Andy says that a sprint finish is more than likely as the KoMs are done way before the finish but warns there is a 200 to 300 metre stretch of more cobbles with final kilometre and a half to go.


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Proper big European cobbles, very similar to the ones in Guildford where the Tour of Britain finished a few years ago, but a bit bigger.

Stage Four Wednesday 9 September Edinburgh to Blyth, 218km


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Edinburgh to Blythe, starting in Holyrood Park, will see the peloton take a very scenic route out of this tourist mecca, including some cobbles, the Royal Mile and the Castle. The course will head towards the coast and dip in and out of the coastal roads which if the winds blows as it did in a very early edition of the Tour of Britain, we will see some chewing of the handlebar tape.

The race will pass Alnwick Castle on route to the finish in the market square in Blythe and the stage will be the second 200k plus stage in a row.

Stage Five Thursday 10 September Prudhoe to Hartside Fell, 171km (Summit finish, 8km climb)


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This, says Andy, is likely to be key stage as the race travels from Northumberland to Cumbria and finishes on top of Hartside Fell which he says he’s driven in the car several times and it’s taken eight minutes or so, a lot more for the riders though.

“It’s a steady climb of eight kilometres, five per cent in places with ramps of 10 per cent and a hairpin bend within the final kilometre. Spectator wise, this will be the one to come out to!”

Whilst the stage finish is a tough one, the rest of the stage is described as very rolling with a few flat sections in it as well which could mean a bunch kick up the final five miles!

Stage Six Friday 11 September Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, 189km


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The race pays another visit to Stoke which has been home to the Tour Series and Tour of Britain over the years. These are seriously lumpy roads over climbs such as Axe Edge and passing through well known landmarks such as Buxton, Matlock, Bakewell, Chatsworth House before a finish in Nottingham. A chance for a break depending on how much the big teams can control the race.

Stage Seven Saturday 12 September Fakenham to Ipswich, 225km


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This is the longest stage, and the flattest one as well but could see the peloton blown apart if the winds blow. There is also a surprise in store for riders which the organisation will reveal later.

Stage Eight Saturday 13 September London stage presented by TfL, 93km (new spectacular circuit)


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With the new super highway for cycles being built in London, the race has had to say goodbye to the normal circuit and start again. “This one is the most adventurous circuit we have ever done and has taken five months of planning to put together” says Andy.

Starting in Lower Regent street, it takes in Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, a dead turn at Conduit street , passes through Haymarket, Pall Mall and Trafalgar square. “It’s a very technical circuit” says Andy”.

“The circuit is around 6.5k and they’ll do fifteen or so laps. For spectators, it will be amazing with the race passing by some of the most ionic landmarks in London and they’ll be able to see it four times a lap in places. It really will showcase what a great week it has been for the race”.

What a spectacular race is looks like being and if it tops the 2014 one, it will be nothing short of amazing!

More on the race in the coming months.

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