THE biggest cycling event in the country arrives in Warwickshire on Wednesday, with Geraint Thomas aiming to add to his recent Tour de France success.
Stage four of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain is starting and finishing in the county, just a couple of months after the OVO Energy Women’s Tour did the same.
More than 100,000 spectators are expected to line the route from Nuneaton to Leamington Spa to watch the top teams in world race over the 183.5-kilometre course, which takes in large swathes of the Stratford district.
When does it come to Warwickshire?
Stage four will see many of the world’s top cyclists race 183.5km from Nuneaton to Leamington Spa on Wednesday, 5th September.
What is the route?
Racing through all five Warwickshire districts and boroughs, competitors will set off from Nuneaton at 11am, heading towards Atherstone before taking in the north Warwickshire countryside and arriving in Meriden.
The route then takes riders to the University of Warwick, before passing Kenilworth and Warwick Castles.
Heading south into the Stratford district, competitors will also have to take on three SKODA King of the Mountain climbs again – an ascent of more than 1,700 metres.
The first of those will be at Ilmington, before the second at Edge Hill, just on the outskirts of Arlescote, while the third awaits in Burton Dassett Country Park.
It will then head through Moreton Morrell, Wellesbourne, Kineton, Tysoe and Shipston-on-Stour, Fenny Compton and Southam, and then towards Princethorpe in Rugby before finishing in the centre of Leamington Spa.
Which teams will be competing?
Twenty teams are taking part in the tour, with Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas starring for Team Sky.
Teams: Aqua Blue Sport, Bardiani-CSF, BMC RaAqua Blue Sport, Bardiani-CSF, BMC Racing, Canyon-Eisberg, Direct Energie, Great Britain, JLT Condor, Lotto Soudal, Madison Genesis, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar, ONE Pro Cycling, Quick-Step Floors, Team Dimension Data, Team EF Education First-Drapac, Katusha-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Sunweb, Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
Is the Tour of Britain on TV?
The tour is screened live by ITV4 each day, with highlights every night at 8pm.
Where can I watch the big race?
Project manager for the Warwickshire stage, Chris Egan, said there were a few hotspots where people can have a great view of the event.
“Nuneaton town centre is the ideal place for the race to get underway,” he said.
“A variety of parking options will be available to visitors and the team village is also located here, so fans will be able to mingle with the stars of the tour before they set off at around 11am.
“Following on from that, Abbey Green and Tuttle Hill really lend themselves as a great location for spectators to come and watch.
“After heading north, Atherstone is first town the tour will head through. Riders will take an S-shaped route on Long Street, Station Street and onto Coleshill Road, and there will be plenty of free parking for spectators to use to stop and enjoy the race.”
Other key areas of the stage providing potential highlights include the race’s three timed sprints in the south of the county.
Chris added: “The first of the three sprints will be in Kenilworth, which has been the home to the timed-sprint section of the women’s tour for the last three years, while the final two timed sprints will take place in Wellesbourne and Southam respectively.”
Competitors will face a triple threat of Skoda King of the Mountain climbs, totalling an ascent of 1,700 metres, but Chris hails Burton Dasset, host of the third and final climb, as ‘the ideal place for spectators to visit’ with its open countryside and narrow road through the country park.
The race finish is located in Leamington Spa’s town centre, and Chris has urged fans to arrive in plenty of time: “Spectators should arrive at Newbold Terrace next to Jephson Gardens as early as possible to enjoy the fan areas and pre-race events.
“There will be numerous locations across Warwickshire where fans can get close to the action. It would be great to see as many people as possible lining the streets on the day.”
Motorists are being advised of a number of road closures ahead of the race.
Click here for the full list of closures.
The fun will not stop when riders cross the finish line. Spectators will be treated to a whole host of activities throughout the day in the run-up to stage four’s dramatic finale.
Leamington’s Newbold Terrace, where the Warwickshire stage will come to a close, will be a hive of activity.
Cycling enthusiasts are being urged to arrive early to make the most of the scheduled activities, which start as early as 11am in Jephson Gardens’ Tour Village, where the whole race will be streamed live from the start in Nuneaton.
Stalls will also be set up by local bike shops, with a variety of food stands, and children’s entertainment including live performers and bouncy castles also on display.
Jephson Gardens will also play host to of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain’s Promo Zone, where race sponsors will gather to put on engaging exhibits for the public.
British Cycling will be running activities from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, while Strider Bikes, who produce balance bikes to aid children up to the age of five learning to ride, will be giving youngsters the chance to get involved in a balance bike race.
Children aged 18 months to five can enter and all riders will receive medals and a photo on the podium.