3 Mar, 10:00
Brendan Gallagher reflects on another busy weekend on cycling, including double British success in Belgium to complete a profitable February for British riders on the road.
The Tour of Britain is British Cycling's premier road cycling event and the UK's biggest professional bicycle race and largest annual free-to-spectate live sporting event. Attracting over a million spectators to the roadside each September, with many hundreds of thousands more following via television and online around the world, the Tour of Britain is a centrepiece of the British sporting calendar.
With a history dating back to the early 1950s under various names and guises, the modern iteration of the Tour of Britain returned to the calendar in 2004, after a five-year absence. The race quickly re-established itself as the main cycling event in Britain and a cornerstone of the UK's sporting calendar, celebrating the tenth modern edition in 2013, with Britain's first Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins winning his home Tour.
Ranked at the 2.1 category by the UCI and initially held over five days, by 2008 The Tour of Britain had grown to become an eight-day event, allowing it to visit more parts of the UK than ever before, ranked for 2014 at the 2.HC level. 2012 proved to be a memorable year for British sport, with The Tour coming at the end of a glorious sporting summer, with daily live coverage for the first time on ITV4.
Each year The Tour attracts some of the world's top cyclists to compete on British roads, vying to win The Tour of Britain. In recent years home favourites like Tour de France Green Jersey Mark Cavendish and Olympic Gold medallists Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy and Sir Bradley Wiggins have been regular fixtures, while the likes of Marcel Kittel, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gerald Ciolek, Andre Greipel, Nick Nuyens and Edvald Boasson Hagen have all been stage winners in The Tour.
The Tour of Britain has also seen the development of many household British names, including the likes of Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates and Ben Swift being exposed to racing against the world's best on home roads.
To find out more about the previous editions of The Tour of Britain, click on the links to find out the stage winners and the story of each race.