British cycling is riding high.
Since Sir Bradley Wiggins broke down the door in 2012 with his first Tour de France win, the UK has had five more Tour winners with Wales’ Geraint Thomas winning this year’s circuit.
17.6 million people cycle at least once a month in the UK. Plus, more people than ever are taking it up, boosted by the success of our professional cyclists.
And what’s not to like? The feeling of freedom on the open road. The wind in your hair. Cycling with friends or family. The health benefits.
Tour of Britain Coming to Woolacombe
Six years ago, was the last time the Tour of Britain came to Devon. At the Woolcombe Bay Hotel we were excited like anyone else to see it in our county. But, we were also gutted it started in Barnstaple, and finished in Dartmouth. It was so close to Woolacombe! So close! (yet so far away).
Little did we know it was going to return in 2018 and we’re delighted to say, that this time the Tour of Britain is indeed coming to Woolacombe.
History of the Tour - Origins of Dispute
To understand the history of the Tour you must go back to WW2 and a dispute between cyclists. The British administrative body, the National Cyclists' Union (NCU), was fearful that mass road racing would endanger all racing. This included early-morning time trials, and ultimately, the place of cyclists on the road.
In defiance of the NCU, a race was organised from Llangollen to Wolverhampton on 7th June 1942, leading to an organisers and riders ban from the NCU. So, the outcasts formed a new body – the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC). This wanted not only mass racing, but a British version of the Tour de France.
The Southern Grand Prix in Kent in 1944 was the first, multi-day stage race in Britain, with the first stage won by Percy Stallard, the organiser of the Llangollen-Wolverhampton race. The overall race was won by was by Les Plume of Manchester and so the Tour of Britain began.
Now 73 years later the Tour is more popular than ever with hundreds of thousands of people watching each stage.
An Epic Journey Across Britain
The Tour of Britain takes place from Sunday 2nd to Sunday 9th September this year, starting in Wales and finishing in London with the following stages:
· The Welsh Epic – Pembrey Country Park to Newport
· The Coastal Classic – Cranbrook to Barnstaple
· Showdown on the Downs – Bristol to Bristol
· Shakespeare’s County – Nuneaton to Royal Lemington Spa
· Cumbrian Classic Part 1 – Cockermouth to Whinlatter Pass
· Cumbrian Classic Part 2 – Barrow-in-Furness to Whinlatter Pass
· Robin Hood Country – West Bridgeford to Mansfield
· Capital Finale – London
The Devon Stage – Cranbrook to Barnstaple 3rd September
Quick overview –
· Cranbrook out towards East Devon – near the Blackdown Hills
· East Devon past Tiverton into the rolling farmlands of Mid Devon (Nomansland)
· Mid Devon to the wild fringes of Exmoor (Bratton Fleming, South Molton)
· The North Devon coast – from Combe Martin Bay west towards Woolacombe
· Woolacombe towards Croyde and Braunton – then inland
· Finish – Barnstaple!
Challacombe Hill in Woolacombe
The monster descent into Woolacombe is the prime hill in the Devon stage of the Tour.
Unfortunately, as you’ve guessed the athletes must cycle up it! It’s tiring enough to walk down, so this section will separate the wheat from the chaff.
Below are some approximate timings –
· 14.32 Advance vehicles arrive in Woolacombe
· 14:52 Race arrives – Challacombe hill climb
Organisers suggest being in Woolacombe an hour before this, because it will be busy, and you don’t want to miss it. Also, although there will be warning signs all over, it’s worth remembering not to travel between 13:30 and 16:00 on the 3rd September.
For a full timing guide, please click here.
And, to see the Tour of Britain promo video – please click here.
Special extra: this year there’s an intriguing “land art” competition happening – read more.
Tour of Britain Break at The Woolacombe Bay Hotel
The Tour of Britain happens to be biggest free to watch sporting event in the country and will be broadcast on ITV 4. However, when it comes to the gorgeous scenery of the Devon and the thrill of seeing world class cyclists in action – TV doesn’t cut it. It never will.
At the Woolacombe Bay Hotel we’ll be honest, thousands of people will be wanting to come to Devon to watch the race – especially the coastal part!
Seeing this year’s tour is one of countless reasons to visit the dramatic North Devon coast. It’s a fine part of a beautiful county and in a handful of the most desirable places to holiday in the UK.
There’s a couple of weeks left, but to save your disappointment – please be quick if you want to stay at our four-star hotel in Woolacombe.
Stay with us on Sunday 2nd September from just from just £184 per night, bed & breakfast or make a day trip to Woolacombe (don't forget to arrive in plenty of time!) and pop in for a lovely lunch or afternoon tea.