A history of the Tour of Britain as it reaches Stoke-on-Trent
Hordes of cycling fans are gathering to see Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish whiz through Stoke-on-Trent this morning, as the Tour of Britain passes through the city.
The Tour, one of the hottest races in the cycling calendar, sees 100 of the world’s best riders tackle the nation’s terrain come rain or shine, travelling to the heights of the Scottish Borders down to the famous Dartmoor climbs.
The fifth leg of the tour takes place in Stoke-on-Trent today. Read our guide here.
But where did it all begin for the Tour of Britain?
Call WHITEGATES Today 01782 209935 ..Limited offer. Available only up on production of voucher. Sell your home for £399 plus vat.* #EPC is required to market your home not included in offer.
Terms: *Upfront payment, non-refundable in the event of property remaining unsold, being withdrawn from the market or being sold by another agent, yourself or by any other means.#EPC £62.50 plus vat.
Contact: 01782 209 935
Valid until: Thursday, July 04 2013
The Tour’s origins date back to the 1940s, when World War Two sparked the return of bunch racing to the roads of Britain.
In 1942 a number of cyclists, led by a leading racer of the time Percy Stallard, defied the National Cyclists Union and conducted a mass road race from Llangollen to Wolverhampton.
A new body, the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC), developed on the back of the successful event.
According to the British Cycling website: “Stallard was a pragmatist. He knew that the war was going to radically change the social fabric of the country and he saw no reason why the ban on road racing shouldn't be put aside once and for all.”
In the years that followed the BLRC went from strength to strength, organising a number of races including the Brighton to Glasgow event, from which the Tour of Britain grew.
The first Tour took place in 1951, and was won by Scottish cyclist Ian Steel.
Some 49 cyclists took part in the race. According to the Daily Express race report: “At 12 o'clock sharp, the starting flag dropped, the riders tensed, the wheels began to turn - and the first Tour of Britain was on its way”.
Today The Tour, dubbed Britain's answer to the Tour de France, is the UK's biggest professional bicycle race, and the country’s largest free-to-watch live sporting event.
The Tour of Britain as it is known today first took place in 2004, taking place over five days in early September. The race was won by Colombian Mauricio Ardila.
This year the riders will cover 838.8 miles (1,349.9 km) in total, making it the longest ever Tour.
To date, the modern Tour of Britain has yet to be won by a British rider, although stages have been won in the past by Roger Hammond, Paul Manning, Ben Swift, Alex Dowsett and the legendary Tour de France sprinter Mark Cavendish.