The Tour Series, Britain’s leading televised cycle race series, will return this weekend after over 800 days away.
The North Yorkshire market town of Guisborough will host the first of three rounds that comprise the 2021 series on Sunday (8 August), before the action continues in Sunderland (Tuesday 10 August) and Castle Douglas (Thursday 12 August). These rounds will be the first to take place since the last series to date culminated at the historic Brooklands venue in Surrey at the end of May in 2019; last year’s series was cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic before this year’s event was rescheduled from its traditional May position.
Since its inaugural edition in 2009, the Tour Series has become a cornerstone of the British racing calendar, helped in part by the ITV4 highlights shows from each round. The event has also attracted Britain’s star riders: Olympic champions Tom Pidcock, Laura Kenny, Ed Clancy, Dani Rowe, Elinor Barker, Katie Archibald, Joanna Rowsell-Shand and Paralympic legend Dame Sarah Storey have all lit up the series.
Reigning men’s and women’s champions – Canyon dhb SunGod and CAMS-Basso Bikes (who won the 2019 title as Brother UK – Tifosi p/b OnForm) – will return to defend their crowns in this year’s series. They are the only teams out of the 28 who will feature in the 2021 event who have previously enjoyed overall glory, although the unpredictability that comes from a condensed series set across entirely new venues, combined with a talented array of opposition teams, means that the series will once again go down to the wire.
Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “So much has changed since we crowned Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes and Brother UK-Tifosi p/b OnForm our most recent champions back in May 2019. We know the importance of the Tour Series to the British teams and riders, their sponsors, and, of course, cycling fans in the UK, so it was always a key aim for us to make sure that the event returned in 2021.
“It certainly has not been an easy process, outlined most notably by our decision to move the series back from its traditional May calendar position to August. The uncertainty as to when major events with crowds could return, something that has only relatively recently had greater clarity shed upon it, has presented us and our local authority stakeholders with many challenges to get rounds confirmed. My gratitude goes to our three host venues in 2021; without their willingness and determination to work through whatever challenges we’ve been faced with since the turn of the year there simply wouldn’t be a Tour Series. I’d also like to thank the teams for their patience while we worked tirelessly to ensure that we could successfully and, perhaps most crucially of all, safely deliver this year’s event.”
The Tour Series remains unique in professional cycling owing to its team-based format. The aim for teams is to complete the race in the lowest cumulative time. Teams are permitted to start each race with five riders, and it is the combined time of their three (women’s series) and four (men’s series) highest-placed riders that decides who is the fastest on the night. The team that consistently performs the best and scores the highest combined points tally will wear the stunning Freewheel.co.uk yellow leaders’ jerseys and eventually on to claim the prestigious Tour Series title.
Nonetheless, the series still offers riders opportunities to get their name in the lights, with the battle for individual round victories expected to be hotly contested once again. Previous individual round winners Megan Barker (the sole female on the list), Matt Bostock, Felix English, Matt Gibson, Jacob Hennessy, Jon Mould, Freddie Scheske, Andy Tennant, Rory Townsend and Joey Walker have all been named in their respective teams’ squads for the series. Welshman and Commonwealth Games medallist Mould continues to hold the record for most individual round wins: 11, the last of which came in 2016.
Additional individual glory comes in the form of Freewheel.co.uk sprints competition, the leader of which will be easily recognisable at the Sunderland and Castle Douglas rounds owing to the classification’s blue PEARL iZUMI jersey.
The series’ opening round in Guisborough features a 1.3-kilometre (0.8-mile) course set around a section of historic market town. The start/finish line on Westgate will be known to many riders, as it is where the East Cleveland Klondike GP one-day race also begins and ends. A fast start to the lap will take the peloton onto Church Street – and past Gisborough Priory – before a sweeping run through Priory Close.
Racing in Sunderland – round two host on Tuesday 10 August – will be fast and aggressive owing to the city’s four-corner circuit based around the stunning Mowbray Park. Starting and finishing in the shadow of the Jack Crawford statue, a memorial to a local sailing hero, the course passed the city’s Museum and Winter Gardens and is expected to produce the fastest lap times in the 2021 series.
Round three in Castle Douglas will be centered around Market Hill, scene of André Greipel’s victory on day one of the 2016 Tour of Britain. The circuit, which includes Queen Street, St Andrew Street, Church Street and Academy Street, features long straights and 90-degree corners. It also offers a range of great viewing opportunities for spectators for both men’s and women’s race; owing to Scotland’s COVID-19 protocols, this round remains FREE to attend but is ticketed. Visit bit.ly/TSCDtickets to register for tickets.
In addition to the ITV4 highlights programmes, all of which will be broadcast at 7pm the day after their respective round, extensive race day coverage will be available on the series’ digital platforms.