Tour of Britain Women route revealed, with curtailed 2024 edition set to expand in coming years

Event confirmed to return in 2024 in shortened four-day format from Wales to Greater Manchester

Clock16:00, Monday 15th April 2024
The podium of the last Women's Tour in 2022

© Getty Images

The podium of the last Women's Tour in 2022

British Cycling has revealed the route for this summer’s Tour of Britain Women, the revamped version of the flagship British race the Women’s Tour, which will start in north Wales and finish in Greater Manchester.

Starting in Welshpool on Thursday 6 June, the Women’s WorldTour-level stage race, which fills the same calendar slot as the old Women’s Tour, has been shortened from six to four stages this year due to the last-minute nature of British Cycling’s takeover.

The race did not run in 2023 due to financial difficulties and its former promoter Sweetspot liquidated in January, at which point British Cycling stepped in. They announced their intentions to put together a women’s race for June, admitting it would be a battle against time, but it appears they’ve won that battle with details of the race now coming together.

Read more: Four-day Tour of Britain Women appears on UCI calendar for 2024

The national governing body will also manage the equivalent men’s race, now known as the Tour of Britain Men, which will take place in September, also shortened from eight to six stages.

The Tour of Britain Women route

Returning to where the Women’s Tour left off in 2022, the peloton will take to the start line in Welshpool on 6 June for the longest stage of 2024, heading north to finish in Llandudno.

Stage 2 will remain in Wales, starting and finishing in Wrexham and featuring a challenging selection of climbs in the rolling terrain of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.

The penultimate stage will see the riders cross the border into England for a loop starting and finishing in Warrington, on a flatter day which will favour the sprinters.

The climbs return on the race’s final day, returning to Greater Manchester following the success of the men’s Tour of Britain stage there last summer. The flag will drop at British Cycling’s headquarters at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester before tackling several climbs around the north-west, finishing in Leigh in Wigan.

Speaking at the National Cycling Centre on Monday, race director Rod Ellingworth said: “It’s going to be a challenging course. Stage 1 is going to be the most challenging stage for sure, [followed by] stage 4. I think the GC will come down to the final stage. Weather will play a huge part – if it’s okay weather on stage 1, I think you’ll have a different race come stage 4 – but I think it’s pretty open.

Read more: Rod Ellingworth named as Tour of Britain race director

“Naturally the British roads offer lots of different opportunities – you don’t have the big mountains but there’s certainly some challenging roads, and you don’t need big climbs to make good bike racing either. Where we are in the timescale, I think we’ve got a really good four-day race.”

With all the racing compacted into north Wales and the north-west of England, there will be no long transfers between stages, with sustainability an important consideration for the organisers.

Specific route profiles and more details on the crucial climbs are to be announced in the coming weeks.

British hopeful and former world road race champion Lizzie Deignan, who will be racing as part of a Team GB squad rather than her WorldTour team Lidl-Trek, said: “I’m excited particularly about the harder races around Manchester, the hillier stuff, I think that’ll suit me and I’m excited to be able to race it with the GB team.

“Racing in Britain has always suited me because you have the home crowd, but also the terrain – wherever you are in the country – is relentless. People in the UK are brilliant sports fans and there’s this sense of excitement and thrill at being able to be part of a spectacle like a bike race.”

Designing the race

British Cycling’s chief executive Jon Dutton described this as a ‘reset and re-energise year’ for the race, particularly on the women’s side given the extremely compressed timescale for organising it. Having planned the route in ten weeks, he said: “It’s fair to say none of this has been easy but we believed in this race, these two races.

“I think we’ve got a bit of everything in the four stages, from the climbing to the flat, to sprinting. For the Tour of Britain Men, we’ve announced that we will reduce from eight to six stages, and less might be more – more high quality, compelling racing for those watching from the roadside and on broadcast. We want to stage racing in Wales, England and Scotland and we will satisfy that across the two races this year.”

The races will be funded by a mixture of public funding, broadcast revenue and sponsorships. Dutton said: “We accept that maybe in year one the race has to run at a deficit, but this is about taking a longer-term approach to it. We’re in the process of finalising [broadcast] contracts both domestically and internationally so we’re in a good place.

“We’re excited, we got what we realistically could have expected this year in four and six stages, but again that’s the reset year.

“These two races are the jewel in the crown for domestic, elite international road racing here in Great Britain. If you look at both women and men on the WorldTour, it’s quite astonishing from a GB perspective, and we want to make sure they have the opportunity to ride here on our roads. We’ve invited and all six British UCI Continental teams have accepted, and we also have a very strong GB women’s team that will race, so it will be a real celebration of British women’s international elite road racing.”

It is not yet clear which Women’s WorldTour teams will be in attendance, with participation not mandatory, and the last-minute confirmation of the race possibly a roadblock for some teams.

Future events

Work is already ongoing to expand the races next year, with the women’s edition here to stay after a turbulent few years.

“I think we can offer a brilliant, fixed point in the calendar for women’s racing,” Dutton added. “We’ve spoken to more than 50 local authorities since the start of January. What that’s done is landed where we are today with the Tour of Britain Women, where we will land in September with the Tour of Britain Men, but perhaps more excitingly, we almost have more start and finish locations than we have opportunities for next year, which is really exciting.”

This year’s route features four regular road stages, but a time trial will be re-incorporated in future editions. Ellingworth said: “To put those stages on takes a lot more work, so with the time restrictions that we had we thought, let’s keep it quite simple, let’s put on some good, safe racing and go from there.”

Dutton also indicated that another Tour de France Grand Départ in Great Britain could be in the pipeline.

“We remain absolutely committed to working with UK Sport and government partners. We appreciate what happened in 2014 was absolutely fantastic and we’d love to do everything we can to bring it back. We definitely have the same level of determination for that as we do for [the Tour of Britain races].”

The men’s race, slated for September, is also still in the works, in a similarly curtailed form at six stages compared to the usual eight.

“We want the focus now to be, up to June, on the Tour of Britain Women. The team are almost there with finalising the route for the men’s. We would anticipate somewhere between the end of the women’s race and the start of the Olympics when we will [announce the route],” Dutton said.

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