By Oliver Jervis
As the summer sun fades from the horizon, the city of Durham will host the AJ Bell Tour of Britain for the first time in its illustrious history. Tuesday 6e In September 2022, around 120 of the world’s best cyclists will disembark at St Mary’s for the start of the race’s third leg.
This segment of the event will start at 11.15am and will cover a distance of 163.6km, consisting of an initial ascent of the peloton in the North Pennines, before descending back into County Durham and finishing in Sunderland’s Keel Square – with the New City £500m City Hall – at an estimated time of arrival of 3.23pm.
The county represents the tour’s first foray into England this year and is expected to see road closures around the town centre, particularly due to the events’ free-entry status.
Other stops include Aberdeen to Glenshee Ski Center on 4e September, Hawick to Duns on the 5the September, Redcar at Duncombe Park, Helmsley on the 7the September, West Bridgford to Mansfield on the 8the September, Tewkesbury to Gloucester on the 9the September, West Bay to Ferndown on the 10the September, and Ryde at The Needles on the 11the September as the highlight of the tour.
Additionally, eighteen teams have been announced for the race and will provide an eye-catching display of the world’s cream of cycling talent. The shortlist includes, among others, INEOS Grenadiers (GB), Great Britain Cycling Team (GB), Global 6 Cycling (NZ), Caja Rural – Seguros RGA (ESP), Human Powered Health (USA) and Wiv SunGod (GB) ) .
Last year’s Tour of Britain saw Wout van Aert claim victory with the Jumbo-Visma (NED) team. However, with the team’s notable absence from the 2022 edition of this event and the inclusion of Olympic, World and Tour de France champions throughout the lineup, a fiery affair is expected to take place along the winding roads of County Durham.
When Durham was announced as one of the event’s hosts, Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said: “The third stage of this year’s Tour of Britain really has it all. what will be our first visits to two fantastic cities: a start in the historic city of Durham in the shadow of its castle and cathedral, an incredibly scenic drive through some of the most beautiful grounds and picturesque villages in the UK, and an arrival outside the new Sunderland Town Hall. From our previous visits to the North East we know how passionate and enthusiastic people are when it comes to the sport, so I’m sure many will attend this world class free event.
The third stage will be broadcast live on ITV 4 starting at 11 a.m. on race day, with highlights starting at 10 p.m. Additionally, for those looking for a more intimate spectator experience, Sportive Breaks offers a range of VIP offers and more to suit your needs. Information about these packages can be found via this link.
What is the Tour of Britain?
Although permanently existing in the shadow of the sport’s notorious and defining Tour de France, Britain’s imitation of the retirement of the yellow jersey, the tricolor-fueled bonanza has a history dating back to its inaugural race in 1945.
Originally known as the “Milk Cup” due to its sponsorship association with the Milk Marketing Board (which duly ended in 1987), the event was relatively prominent in the UK orbital cycling sphere and had the privilege of hosting some of the big names in the sport.
For those of British descent, as seems typical in the world of cycling, there has been a tumultuous relationship with the success of the event. Beyond a seemingly spontaneous golden period from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, only occasionally has a candidate from these islands managed to achieve the now red jersey. Notable winners include Bill Nickson in 1976, Bradley Wiggins in 2013 and Steve Cummings in 2016, this being the last British victory in the annals of the racing history books.
The tour suffered a brief hiatus between 1999 and 2004 due to commercial politics. Its subsequent resurrection was greeted by the expansion of the race to an eight-stage process, which today often draws over a million spectators. After gaining momentum in recent years, the 2022 tour will enter historic but new ground in what should prove to be an exciting ride for everyone involved.
Image: SWpix.com via Sportive Breaks