The AJ Bell Tour of Britain, the UK’s biggest professional cycle race, is poised to get underway in Penzance tomorrow (Sunday 5 September).

The race returns after an absence of 722 days following the cancellation of the 2020 race due to the pandemic with a star studded field headlined by Mark Cavendish, reigning world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Tokyo 2020 silver medallists Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) and Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers).

A star studded 107-rider line-up contains five reigning national road race champions and a total of 17 different nationalities represented. Click here to view the final AJ Bell Tour of Britain start list.

Speaking ahead of the race Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) said; “I’m here at Tour of Britain to race at home and get results for Deceuninck – Quick Step. The team we have here at the race is very strong.

“There’s a lot of natural beauty here in the south west and frankly we’ve got good weather, but it’s different racing in Britain on heavy roads and they build fatigue so starting down here puts fatigue in the legs.

“I think there are chances of victory perhaps in Warrington, perhaps the final stage [in Aberdeen]. There are teams of six so small team numbers, and these are eight stages are different styles of racing, so there are perhaps two chances, but it’s unlikely to be bunch sprints.”

Tour of Britain 2021 map

Among the riders is Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) – who announced on Saturday that he will retire at the end of the season – making the AJ Bell Tour of Britain his final appearance on British roads.

“Even just arriving in the UK felt special as we so rarely get to race here. It’s been four years since I last did the race and I’m excited to race on the roads that I competed on growing up. It’s always a tough test with a high-quality field and tough terrain. Hopefully we get to experience the crowds that used to come out as pre-Covid it was always one of the best atmospheres we raced with.

“We have a strong team and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do everyday. Some stages really suit me and I hope we can be aggressive throughout the week. Form is always a bit unknown this time of year after a long season but I felt good at Plouay so we will do our best and enjoy my last Tour of Britain.”

The race gets underway with an opening 180.8-kilometre (112.4-mile) stage through Cornwall from Penzance to Bodmin on Sunday 5 September, culminating with a challenging uphill finish on St Nicholas Street outside Bodmin Keep.

After a second stage in the south west – between Sherford and Exeter in Devon – the AJ Bell Tour of Britain includes two stages in Wales, the first an 18.2-kilometre team time trial to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and the second a testing 210 kilometres ending atop the Great Orme on the North Wales coast.

Stages five and six take the race to Cheshire and Warrington, and then across the Pennines from Carlisle to Gateshead with a finish in the shadow of the Angel of the North.  The final pair of stages take place in Scotland, between Hawick and Edinburgh, and then culminating with the final stage from Stonehaven to Aberdeen on Sunday 12 September.

The AJ Bell Tour of Britain is sponsored by AJ Bell, one of the UK’s leading online investment platforms, helping people invest for the long term via ISAs, pensions and general investment accounts.  It has a rich history of supporting elite level sport including badminton, cricket, rugby, squash and triathlon.