August 6, 2004 – The Tour of Britain cycle race arrives in London on Sunday 5th September as the event returns to the UK sporting calendar.
The race, which includes world-class cyclists from the Tour de France and the Athens Olympic Games, will be held in five stages across the country from September 1-5, 2004.
The Tour involves sixteen of the world’s top professional teams, and begins in Manchester on 1 September, followed by stages in Yorkshire, the East Midlands and South Wales. The final leg of the Tour will be held in central London with the finish line on Whitehall.
Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said: “After a five-year absence it is great news to see the Tour of Britain back on the sporting calendar, especially as London is hosting the final leg.
“With ever-increasing numbers of cyclists in the capital I am sure Londoners will give the Tour the same enthusiastic welcome they have given to recent events such as the London Marathon – the world’s largest – and the Olympic Torch Relay, which gained such a tremendous response on the streets.”
Ninety-six riders will contest four stages over 500 miles around the country before they reach the final London stage. It is the first time the race has been in the UK since 1999, when it attracted an estimated 3 million spectactors along its route.
Competitors will ride 45 laps of a circuit made up of Whitehall, Northumberland Avenue, The Embankment, Bridge Street and finishing back at Whitehall.
For many of the riders it will be the first time that they have competed in the UK and a unique chance to ride past iconic London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Ten Downing St and Trafalgar Square.
There will be a prize fund of Â£60,000 for the eventual race winner, individual stage winners, and for the best points winner, ‘best climber’ and ‘best sprinter’. The riders will also be competing for the important UCI world ranking points.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of London 2012 said: “The Tour of Britain will be a fantastic event and London is the perfect location for the final leg of the race. Over 80,000 people were in the Mall for the recent Olympic Torch Relay concert and an estimated 500,000 people came to watch the Formula 1 parade in Regent Street, showing what a passion exists for watching sport in London.
“I want to tap into that enthusiasm and ensure that the success of Tour of Britain helps strengthen the London Olympic bid, which will bring massive benefits to the capital and to the whole country.”
Cycling will get a major boost if London stages the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012 – including a new Olympic Velodrome, a BMX track and an on-and-off road cycle circuit.
Furthermore the regeneration ambition for the Lower Lea Valley which underlies the London 2012 bid proposes new cycling routes through a huge new park that will stretch from Hackney down to the River Thames.’
Tony Doyle, MBE, Twice World cycling champion and Tour of Britain Event Director said: “All the team managers and riders are delighted that we have been able to revive the Tour of Britain after a five year gap. The international cycling authorities are fully backing the race, which will be a fabulously exciting spectacular.
It has been made possible with the help of the Regional Development Agencies and their regional and local partners across the country who have help fund and co-ordinate the various legs of this exciting sporting spectacle”.
The Tour of Britain coincides with a sharp rise in cycling in London. The number of people currently cycling in London is 23% higher than last year. Around 300,000 cycling trips are made in London each day and 17% of Londoners are cyclists. Transport for London’s (TfL) London Cycling Action Plan aims to achieve an 80% increase in cycling levels by 2010 and a 200% increase by 2020 compared to cycling levels in 2000. A programme of measures to encourage more people to enjoy the advantages of city cycling has led to the creation of nearly 3,000 additional cycle parking spaces; free cycle maps showing quiet routes, and free cyclist training across London. Over 100km of cycling routes have been upgraded to improve conditions for cycling in London.