Organisers have unveiled an innovative and unpredictable route for the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain, according to Race Director Mick Bennett.

The race, which takes place from 2 to 9 September, will include a team time trial for the first time, as well as a summit finish on Whinlatter Pass in Cumbria on Stage Six.

The 1,140-kilometre route will take the world’s top riders from Pembrey Country Park on the Carmarthenshire coast in South Wales to the streets of Central London, via Devon, Bristol, Warwickshire, Cumbria and Nottinghamshire across eight stages of racing.

“This year we have worked hard to create an innovative and unpredictable route, with several surprises in store throughout the race,” said Race Director Mick Bennett. “Several stages have stings in the tail; climbs positioned towards the finale of Stages One, Two and Three will keep the outcome up in the air until the very end.

“Our partners at Cumbria County Council have helped us to achieve something that we have been keen to do for a number of years on Stage Five – a team time trial that finishes atop Whinlatter Pass. This will be a test like no other, as teams will have to get their equipment choices and tactics spot on. The race may not be won here, but some riders could certainly lose it. 

“In another first for the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, we return to the same climb the following day for a double ascent of our summit finish – although riders will tackle it during a conventional road stage, albeit from its harder eastern side!

“Add in stages in Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and London, where we’ll build on the successes of last year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain and OVO Energy Women’s Tour, I cannot wait for the start of September already!”

“This is our second year sponsoring the Tour of Britain and we’re thrilled to see that Bristol, home to our headquarters, once again features in what looks like an amazing route,” said Chris Houghton, CEO Energy Retail at OVO Energy. “This year, we’re dedicated to bringing our customers and spectators even closer to the action. Our online interactive maps will help fans and families plan their day by offering sightseeing information, things to do nearby, and tips on where to eat locally – at each stage of the race. We’ll also be giving spectators a chance to try out e-bikes as they await the race to begin.”

The race, Britain’s most prestigious international men’s stage race on the UCI calendar, is sponsored by the UK’s largest independent energy company for the second successive year. The battle for the race leader’s OVO Energy Green Jersey is likely to be focussed around a pair of stage finishes on Whinlatter Pass in Cumbria on Stages Five and Six (Thursday 6 and Friday 7 September).

Commenting on the launch, Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of British Cycling said; “The OVO Energy Tour of Britain goes from strength to strength as a mainstay of the British sporting year which attracts new fans across the country to our fantastic sport. The 2018 route is one which will really capture the imagination of everyone, whether they cheer from the roadside or watch on television.”

As well as the challenging route, British fans can also look forward to once again welcoming a star-studded line-up of teams to race on home roads this September, including the likes of UCI World Tour squads BMC Racing, Team Katusha Alpecin and Team Sky.

The first teams to be confirmed to have been invited to the race are: BMC Pro Cycling, Lotto Soudal, Mitchelton Scott, Movistar Team, Quick-Step Floors, Team Dimension Data, Team EF Education First – Drapac, Team Katusha Alpecin, Team Lotto NL Jumbo, Team Sky (all UCI World Tour), Aqua Blue Sport, Direct Energie, Wanty – Groupe Gobert (all UCI Pro Continental) and the Great Britain national team.

The final list of participating teams for the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain will be confirmed week commencing 16 July.

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The OVO Energy Tour of Britain 2018 Route in detail
Stage One on Sunday 2 September will see the modern Tour visit Carmarthenshire for the first time, as the race gets underway at Pembrey Country Park. Riders will pass through Carmarthen, Brecon and Usk before the stage finish in the city of Newport.  Riders will tackle the 800-metre, 9% average gradient climb of Belmont Hill on the outskirts of The City of Newport inside the final 10 kilometres of racing.

After a year’s absence the OVO Energy Tour of Britain returns to the South West of England and its 10th visit to Devon in the past 12 years.  The stage (Monday 3 September) will start in the UK’s newest town – Cranbrook – and finish in Barnstaple following a hilly finale along the North Devon coast that includes the one-kilometre, 13% average gradient climb of Challacombe, near Woolacombe.

Bristol will host the third stage of the race (Tuesday 4 September), a short, sharp out-and-back leg into the north Somerset hills that includes Cheddar Gorge. The finish on the Clifton Down is the same one as used by the race in 2014 and 2016, where Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin and Rohan Dennis have taken victories.

Stage Four will build on the success of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour’s visit to Warwickshire in 2017 by bringing the men’s race to the county for the first time since 1993 on Wednesday 5 September.  The leg will race over 183 kilometres from Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa, using many of the same roads that the world’s top women will cover when Britain’s leading women’s stage race returns to the county on 13 June this year.

The race heads to Cumbria and the Lake District for two stages on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 September, the first of which will see an uphill team time trial from Cockermouth town centre to the summit of Whinlatter Pass.  The 14-kilometre test gains over 300 metres across its length, with the final five kilometres of the test against the clock averaging 4%.

The following day riders will climb Whinlatter Pass twice more, from its harder eastern side, during a 169-kilometre road stage from Barrow-in-Furness. The second of the ascents up the three-kilometre climb that averages 7% will see the stage finish at the Forestry Commission’s visitor centre.

The penultimate stage sees the OVO Energy Tour of Britain return to Nottinghamshire to build upon the success of the 2017 stage in the county.  This year’s longest stage of the race heads from West Bridgford to Mansfield, taking in 223 kilometres.

The 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain concludes with a 14-lap circuit race in the heart of London, using the iconic circuit that the 2015 and 2016 editions finished on, taking in Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, before the finish on Regent Street St James.

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep, taking place between Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 September 2018.