The two Welsh stages of the Tour of Britain have today [Monday 18 July] been officially welcomed on the opening day of the Royal Welsh Show by the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and elite Welsh cyclists. Britain’s most prestigious professional cycle race will return to Wales for two stages once again this September, with Wednesday 7 September seeing the world’s top riders racing from Denbigh to Builth Wells, where they will finish on the Royal Welsh Showground.

Thursday 8 September will then see the world’s top cyclists racing from Aberdare across South Wales through Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly County Borough, Torfaen and Monmouthshire before a finish in Bath.

The two stages will include almost 300-kilometres of racing on Welsh roads, with Stage Four from Denbigh to Builth Wells the longest of the 2016 race at 218-kilometres also including the most ascent of any leg, with over 4,000-metres of climbing.

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: “I am delighted to launch two new Welsh stages of the Tour of Britain. The race is a great opportunity for us to showcase the beautiful Welsh landscape to the cyclists taking part as well as the thousands of spectators who watch the thrilling competition. 

“Following the magnificent Euro 2016 tournament, Wales’ sporting achievements are being recognised and celebrated around the globe. I hope being part of the Tour of Britain will continue to inspire people in Wales to take up sport – and with 2016 being Wales’ Year of Adventure, this is the perfect time for people to get active and plan a sporting adventure!”

""Stage Four will begin from Denbigh town centre at 10:30 and is expected to finish on the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells at around 15:29.  It will mark the first time that Denbighshire has hosted a stage start of the Tour of Britain and the first time that a stage has finished in Powys.

Flintshire will host an intermediate Yodel Sprint, sponsored by parcel delivery company Yodel, in Mold and the day’s opening SKODA King of the Mountains climb to the village of Rhydtalog.

Two further SKODA King of the Mountains climbs will come at Bwlch-y-Safn in Denbighshire’s Berwyn Mountains and at Dyfnant forest in Powys, with the final Yodel Sprints in the villages of Foel and Newbridge-on-Wye.

The Tour of Britain will resume a day later from Aberdare Park in Rhondda Cynon Taf at 11:00 on Thursday 8 September for a 205-kilometre stage to Bath.  From Aberdare the stage will pass through Mountain Ash, Ystrad Mynach and Pontypool, before the opening Yodel Sprint on Monmouth Road in Usk.

The Stage Five route continues through Monmouthshire to Tintern, crossing the River Wye into Gloucestershire via the Bigsweir Bridge north of Llandogo.

Commenting on the Welsh stages, Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said; “We are looking forward to this year’s Welsh stages of the Tour of Britain and taking in new venues and new climbs.  As always the Welsh stages will be amongst the hardest in the Tour, and this year is no different with both stages in excess of 200-kilometres and containing plenty of climbing.” 

""It will be the first time that the Tour of Britain has returned to Caerphilly County Borough since Caerphilly hosted three stage finishes between 2011 and 2013, while Monmouthshire will welcome the race for the first time since the summit finish on the Tumble in 2014 (pictured)

Anne Adams-King, Chief Executive Officer at Welsh Cycling said; “Welsh Cycling is delighted to once again welcome the Tour of Britain to Wales. A stage start is a first for the town of Denbigh, and to finish at the heart of Wales at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells will be spectacular. We are also pleased to see Stage Five depart from Aberdare as the race travels across the border to finish in Bath. 

“We have a fantastic summer of cycling activities here in Wales for everyone to enjoy. With our elite athletes competing in the Tour de France and Rio Olympic Games, and major events like the Tour of Britain on our doorstep, we hope that Wales will be inspired to cycle this summer.”

Councillor Huw Jones, Denbighshire County Council’s Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Leisure and Youth said, “We are absolutely delighted to have secured the start of Stage Four of the race this year, as we feel it will have great benefits to the tourism industry here in Denbighshire, as well as showcasing what the region has to offer.

“We are working closely with our colleagues in Flintshire and the rest of North Wales to make sure that the level of public support shown over recent years is repeated again this year. 

“North Wales is fast earning itself a reputation for hosting and staging major events, with the Tour of Britain a prime example of how councils and event organisers work closely together to deliver these spectacular events.”   
Cllr. Aaron Shotton, Leader of Flintshire County Council said, "The Tour of Britain is an exciting, high profile event which will be seen by television audiences across the world bringing a focus on Wales as the riders race across some of our most stunning landscapes. 

"I am sure that the people of Flintshire will once again take this fantastic opportunity to see the cream of international cycling in action and as in previous years crowds will be out in force to welcome the riders and enjoy the excitement and thrill of the race."

Cllr Avril York, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “I’m thrilled that the Tour of Britain is returning to Powys – the green heart of Wales, after a two-year absence. We’ve held five Tour of Britain starts since 2010 but to host a finish for the first time for this year’s race is extra special and something we are truly excited about.
“A lot of hard work has already taken place to make the Stage Four finish a wonderful and unforgettable experience for visitors and the competitors.  Hosting a stage finish provides a huge opportunity to showcase the beauty of Powys to millions across the world when the event is broadcast worldwide.
“Hosting a finish stage is a major coup for the county and we are looking forward to working with the Tour of Britain, the Welsh Government and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society over the coming weeks to make this a memorable experience for all when we will once again warmly welcome the race in September.”

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Council Business and Human Resources, Cllr Maureen Webber, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the Stage Five start of the Tour of Britain on September 8 at Aberdare Park – a park with a proud history.

“The Tour of Britain is a major sporting event that is followed by millions of people around the world and hosting the race, one of only two starting points in Wales, gives us the opportunity to showcase our beautiful County Borough and all it has to offer.

“The Tour of Britain is going to put Rhondda Cynon Taf on the map, with all roads literally leading to Aberdare on that day.

“We look forward to giving a warm valleys welcome to all the riders, their teams and all the many spectators, who I am sure will be lining the streets to watch the race as it passes through the area.“

""Steve Hughson, Chief Executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS), said: “The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is delighted to be able to host the Stage Four finish of this iconic event at the prestigious Royal Welsh Showground, one of the top outdoor event venues in Wales.

“We are proud that the official launch of both Welsh stages has been held here, at the Royal Welsh Show, where thousands of people from across Wales and beyond come together to celebrate the very best of Welsh and British agriculture.”

This year will be the eighth year that the modern Tour of Britain has visited Wales since its revival in 2004.  The race has visited annually since 2010, with Wales hosting the Grand Depart of the race from  Anglesey for the first time in 2015.

The 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.

Pictured below – Elia Viviani sprints to victory in Wrexham at the end of the 2015 Welsh stage ahead of Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel.