The Tour of Britain is back from the 4-11 September as some of the stars of Rio Olympics return for the UK’s leading stage race.
The Tour will play out over nine stages on a route that will see the riders race across the length and breadth of the UK.
How the race works
Each of the teams in the Tour of Britain will pick their six-rider line-up from their squad of riders.
Riders will take on designated roles, such as a team leader to aim for a place as high as possible on the general classification, a sprinter to target stage wins, a specialist climber for the hillier stages and several domestiques, riders whose sole aim is to help their team leaders.
Internationally the Tour of Britain is a part of the season-long UCI Europe Tour, which begins in January and ends in October and is made up of single-day and stage races in which professional teams from around the world compete.
Alongside the UCI Europe Tour sit the Oceania, Asia, Africa and America calendars, all one level below the UCI World Tour, which includes the world's biggest races such as the Tour de France.
There will be no shortage of British stars for the local crowds to cheer on, as Sir Bradley Wiggins and Owain Doull return from Olympic duty to compete for Team Wiggins.
The duo, who won gold as one half of the men’s team pursuit quartet in Rio, both have previous form in the Tour; Wiggins won the yellow jersey in 2013, while Doull won himself the third step on the podium and the points jersey in last year’s edition.
Their teammate Jon Dibben will also be riding for Team Wiggins, having had a very successful 2016 on both the road and the track; Dibben picked up the rainbow jersey in the points race at the UCI Track World Championships in London and also finished runner up in the under-23 Tour of Flanders.
Alex Dowsett took a record fifth national time trial victory in Stockton on Tees earlier this year; the Movistar rider will be eying the time trial stage in Bristol.
Also returning from Rio after stellar performances in the velodrome and on the road are Team Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings.
Sprinter Cavendish will be hoping for bunch finishes and will be looking for a stage victory in London, while Cummings will be targeting hillier stages earlier in the race to make his presence felt.
Team Sky are yet to announce their full line-up but will be fielding last year’s runner-up and Chris Froome’s right hand man in the mountains on the Tour de France, Wout Poels.
British favourite Ian Stannard will also be riding for the Sky outfit, returning from his supporting role at the Olympics in Rio to play a vital role in the Tour of Britain for his team.
Stage 1 Glasgow -Castle Douglas
Sunday 4 September
Crowds will gather in Glasgow’s George Square to witness the Grand Depart of the 2016 Tour, as the race returns to Scotland's largest city for the first time in 10 years in a repeat of the opening stage from 2006.
From Glasgow the peloton will head south through Kilmarnock and Ayrshire and make their way towards Dumfries & Galloway. The race will pass Loch Doon and Loch Ken and will skirt the edge of Galloway Forest Park, with opportunities to pick up the first of the sprint and king of the mountain points en route.
Stage 2 Carlisle – Kendal
Monday 5 September
The second day of riding will take place within the county of Cumbria, amongst the peaks and valleys of the beautiful lake country. Carlisle city centre will host the start and the race will take in the honey pots of Keswick and Ambleside before finishing on the tough climb of Beast Banks in Kendal.
From Carlisle the riders will immediately head south to Penrith before turning west and tackling the hills of the Lake District, including the Whinlatter Pass. In a stage that contains over 3,500m of climbing, the sternest test of the day is likely to come in Ambleside as the peloton take on the climb notoriously known as 'The Struggle', with some sections at a 20% gradient.
Stage 3 Congleton – Tatton Park
Tuesday 6 September
Cheshire East will host its first ever stage of the Tour, when the peloton lines up in the market town of Congleton on stage three. The race will play out over a tightly wound route which will pass through Crewe and Nantwich, before looping back towards toward Sandbach. From there the route will weave northwards and pass through the finish line in Tatton Park for the first time, where spectators will be able to see the race twice, and watch the live coverage on a big screen.
The riders will then complete a large loop taking them into Cheshire's Peak District, including the ten-kilometre climb of the Cat and Fiddle above Macclesfield, before racing back through Knutsford to the finish in Tatton Park.
Stage 4 Denbigh – Builth Wells
Wednesday 7 September
The longest stage of the 2016 Tour will be a gruelling day in the saddle comprising of 217 kilometres through the heart of Mid-Wales and Denbighshire, Flintshire and Powys.
Not only will it be the longest day for the riders but will also see them tackle the most climbing, with a total ascent of 4,133m, as they feel the force of the Welsh Clwydian Hills and Cambrian Mountains.
From Denbigh the race will head into Flintshire before bearing south and crossing into Powys, running along the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park. The peloton will then continue south, passing through Rhayader, before a fast run in to Builth Wells and the finish on the Royal Welsh Showground.
Stage 5 Aberdare- Bath
Thursday 8 September
Stage five will prove to be another tough day on the road, covering 194.5 kilometres and 3,292m of climbing, taking the Tour of Britain across South Wales and into Gloucestershire and finishing in the city of Bath.
Rolling out from Aberdare in Rhondda Cynon Taf valley, the race will head east through Pontypool and Usk before taking in the Forest of Dean and heading along the Severn Estuary into Gloucester.
After leaving the cathedral city, the riders will head south into the Cotswolds before passing through Stroud and Dursley as they make their way to the finish in picturesque Bath, the first time the city has hosted a stage finish.
Stage 6 Sidmouth – Haytor, Dartmoor
Friday 9 September
After a year's absence from the Tour of Britain, Devon is back with another challenging stage which includes the race's only summit finish; the top of the six-kilometre climb of Haytor, above Bovey Tracey in the Dartmoor National Park.
Starting in Sidmouth on East Devon's Jurassic Coast, the stage will cover 150-kilometres of gruelling Devonshire countryside. It will take in a number of communities en route, including Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Tiverton, Crediton, Chudleigh, and Moretonhampstead.
Following on from the success of the 2013 stage from Sidmouth to Dartmoor, which attracted a record 250,000 spectators, the new route will be sure to pose a host of new challenges for 2016. With over 3,000-metres of climbing and fast descents on narrow roads, this race promises to be an unmissable spectator stage.
Stage 7 – Bristol
Saturday 10 September
15km time trial
91km circuit race
The city of Bristol will host the penultimate day of racing with a double-stage comprising of an individual time trial and a circuit race.
With so many opportunities to see the world's top riders in action on a 15-kilometre circuit, Bristol is sure to attract thousands of cycling fans from across the country.
The races will both start from Bristol Downs and then complete a 15.3-kilometre circuit taking in some of Bristol most iconic sites.
Each lap will include the 9%, 600-metre climb of Bridge Valley Road - once during the time trial in the morning and on each of the six-laps of the circuit race in the afternoon.
The individual time trial is due to begin around 10am and last for just over two-hours and the circuit race will take place between 2.30pm and 5pm
Stage 8 – London
Sunday 11 September
99km circuit race
The Tour of Britain will conclude in the heart of London, using the same highly popular circuit as used by the 2015 edition of the race.
Starting and finishing from Regent Street St James, just below Piccadilly Circus, riders will contest 16 laps of the circuit, which will take in Trafalgar Square, meaning the race is perfectly designed for spectators hoping to see the world's top riders racing on the streets of London.
The yellow jersey
Awarded to the rider leading overall, the yellow jersey is what every rider in The Tour seeks to pull on. The Yellow Jersey is easy to spot in the peloton, identifying the leader for spectators and letting the peloton know where the top rider is.
Last year’s winner: Edvald Boasson Hagen - MTN Qhubeka
The Chain Reaction Cycles Points is awarded to the most consistent finisher in the Tour of Britain.
The first 15 riders across the finish line are awarded points from 15 down to one, with the rider who has accumulated the most points so far wearing the blue and white jersey, sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles.
Last year’s winner: Owain Doull - Team Wiggins
King of the mountains jersey
Awarded to the best climber in the Tour of Britain, riders battle for points over several designated SKODA King of the Mountains climbs on every road stage of The Tour.
Rated according to their difficulty, the first riders across the summit win points to lay claim to the equivalent to the Tour de France’s spotty jersey.
Last year’s winner: Peter Williams - One Pro Cycling
Each road stage of the Tour of Britain features three intermediate Yodel Sprints, where points are awarded towards the sprints jersey.
Highly popular with fans, riders battle it out to be first across the line to claim points, and for bonus seconds to be taken off their overall race time.
If the overall lead for the Tour of Britain is tight, expect the battle for the time bonuses to be intense, just as in 2007 when an intermediate sprint helped decide who won the race overall.
Last year’s winner: Peter Williams - ONE Pro Cycling
- Three-hours of live action each day on ITV4, plus a one-hour highlights programme every evening.
- The race is live on the BIKE Channel UK (available on Sky channel 464, Virgin Media channel 552 and Freesat channel 251).
- Live blog on the Tour of Britain website each day.