After a two-year hiatus, the AJ Bell Tour of Britain returns on Sunday with what promises to be a memorable Grand Départ in Cornwall.

Remarkably, details of our visit to the Duchy were first announced in March 2019, meaning that this stage has been in the making for over 30 months. However, the waiting is nearly over: the UK’s biggest cycle race is back!

The Grand Départ will see riders travel 180 kilometres through the Cornish countryside, starting in Penzance and ending in Bodmin. The stage’s route also visits St Just, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne, Pool, Redruth, Falmouth, Penryn, Truro, Newquay and St Austell, before passing close to the Eden Project on its way to the finish in Bodmin.

Riders will encounter a challenging ending to the stage, which culminates outside Bodmin General Station, the principal station on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway line, Bodmin Keep: Cornwall’s Army Museum and Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry War Memorial. After a fast run in to the town centre, riders will climb for 500 metres up Turf Street and St Nicholas Street; a section that begins with a 13% incline and averages a gradient of 5%.

Will this be a stage for Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Mark Cavendish, the most decorated rider in AJ Bell Tour of Britain, as he returns to race on home roads? Or will Tokyo 2020 medallist Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) win on debut at the UK’s biggest bike race?

Discover Penzance, Bodmin and Cornwall on our stage one hub page.

Stage map and profile

Tour of Britain stage one

ITV4 schedule

Join Matt Barbet, Pippa York, Ned Boulting and Adam Blythe for full live coverage of stage one on ITV4 from 10:45am on Sunday. Alternatively, our highlights programme will air at 8pm.

ITV4 is available on Freeview (channel 25), Freesat (channel 117), Sky (channel 120), Virgin Media (channel 118) and the ITV Hub (online) in the UK.

Timetable and key spectator information

Full timings for stage one can be found here.

Spectator information for fans planning to watch the stage across Cornwall is available here.

Who’s riding?

The AJ Bell Tour of Britain has once again attracted a world-class field for this year’s race.

Click here for a full start list.

The jerseys

As this is stage one of the 2021 race, the four PEARL iZUMi leaders’ jerseys will first be seen when they’re presented in Bodmin after the finish.

AJ Bell leader’s jersey: awarded to the rider who has completed the race in the shortest time after each stage.

Sportsbreaks.com points jersey: awarded to the most consistent finisher across the race’s seven road stages.

SKODA King of the Mountains jersey: awarded to the rider who scores the most points on the race’s categorised climbs.

 Eisberg sprints jersey: awarded to the rider who scores the most points at the race’s daily sprint primes.

Expert opinion

Andy Hawes, the AJ Bell Tour of Britain route director, gives us his take on stage one.

“The 17th edition of the modern AJ Bell Tour of Britain kicks off with what is undoubtedly the hardest opening stage we’ve ever created. Given the calibre of riders competing, we’re expecting to see a sprint finish in Bodmin, but there will be a lot of sore legs after this one!

“How would I describe the route? I’d say it’s quintessentially Cornish. The stage will take the peloton through the Duchy’s top tourist destinations while also paying homage to Cornwall’s industrial past. The opening 50 kilometres, in particular, are really scenic, with the Atlantic Ocean visible to the left for much of them. We could have easily doubled the number of ŠKODA King of the Mountains climbs along the stage route, but it’s more the cumulative effect of the rolling terrain as opposed to any notably tough hills that will take its toll.

“Timing will be key come the finish: the 500-metre climb up Turf Street and St Nicholas Street features an average gradient of 5% but begins at nearer 13%. Anybody who starts their sprint early may get swamped before the line!”

Tour of Britain Bodmin

Photo: The uphill finish into Bodmin may catch riders out if they sprint too early.

Previous visits

This is the first stage of the modern Tour to visit Cornwall.