North Wales will host the Grand Depart of this year’s Friends Life Tour of Britain, as British Cycling’s premier road cycling event begins in Wales for the first time in its modern history.

Sunday 6th September will see the world’s top riders heading to North Wales for an opening stage from Beaumaris on Anglesey to Wrexham, which will pass through all six North Wales regions of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham.

It will also mark the first occasion that the opening stage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain has started on an island, with the stage due to cross the world-famous Menai Bridge to return to the mainland.

Stage One will also be televised on ITV, with three-hours of live coverage being shown on the main ITV channel before a one-hour highlights programme on ITV4 that evening.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said: “I’m delighted that north Wales will host the Grand Depart this year.   The Tour of Britain is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase Wales’ unique and beautiful landscape to the world, as well as highlighting our ability to host a variety of major events. The spectators in Wales have always given the cyclists a real warm Welsh welcome and have created a fantastic atmosphere, I hope that people from across Wales come out to support the event again this year.  Being a part of an event such as this can really inspire people to want to take up the sport and I hope that many more will take up cycling as a result and make us a more active nation.”

Ahead of the opening stage, North Wales will also host a team presentation event, giving cycling fans the chance to get up close to the 120-riders participating, with further details on the event to be announced in the Summer.

Anglesey Council’s Economic Development and Tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Aled Morris Jones, said:
 
“We can’t wait to host the Friends Life Tour of Britain’s Grand Depart from Beaumaris on September 6th. Attracting British Cycling's premier road cycling race is a huge coup for the Island and will undoubtedly provide a fantastic spectacle for the thousands who flock here as spectators.
 
“Anglesey has backed the Tour of Britain’s visits to north Wales over the past two years and we’re now privileged to have been given the opportunity to host the start of such an iconic event. 
 
“As the country's largest annual free-to-spectate sporting event, the Tour of Britain will provide us with a massive opportunity to showcase Anglesey and all it has to offer to visitors and a world-wide audience.”

Councillor Neil Rogers, Wrexham County Borough Council’s lead member of Economic Development, quoted 

“We are absolutely thrilled to be hosting the finish of Stage One of the Friends Life Tour of Britain this September. This is the biggest cycling event in Britain with up to 300 million people watching around the world on Television, showing what Wrexham has to offer. We are so looking forward to welcoming some of the World’s top riders to Wrexham, keeping Wrexham firmly on the Cycling map. Wrexham is a thriving, vibrant place to do business, live, work and socialise, we welcome everyone to the area!”   

North Wales has hosted stages of the Friends Life Tour of Britain in each of the past two years, with stage finishes in Llanberis (2013) and Llandudno (2014), though this will be the first occasion on which a stage of the race has started and finished within North Wales.

Commenting on the announcement, Mick Bennett, Race Director of Friends Life Tour of Britain organisers SweetSpot said;

“The Grand Depart in North Wales has been a part of our overall commitment to the region since taking the race there for the first time in 2013, so we know that we will receive a warm welcome right the way along the route from Anglesey to Wrexham.  The route is going to be a spectacular one, showcasing some of the amazing scenery that North Wales has to offer.”

After completing the opening kilometres on Anglesey, Stage One will pass through Llanberis and climb Pen-y-Pass in Gwynedd, Betws-y-Coed and Llanrwst in Conwy, and Denbigh and Ruthin in Denbighshire.  The race will cross into Flintshire and Mold via the Clwydian Hills, before the finish in the centre of Wrexham.

Further details of Stage One, including Ordnance Survey stage maps, will be announced in the Summer, along with details of the 20 competing teams.

After the opening Welsh stage, seven further days of racing will take the 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain to Cumbria, Scotland, Northumberland and the Peak District before a final day’s racing in the heart of London with an iconic new circuit taking in many of the capital’s world famous sights.

Once again ITV will screen three-hours of live coverage of every stage, starting on ITV for the opening Wales stage before reverting to ITV4 for Stages Two to Eight.  ITV4 will also screen a one-hour highlights programme each evening during the race.

The Friends Life 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 door step.