Tour of Britain

Tour of Britain
Tour of Britain
2011 Tour of Britain
Tour of britain.png
Race details
Date September
Region Great Britain
Discipline Road
Competition UCI Europe Tour
Type Stage race
First edition 1945 (1945)
First winner  Robert Batot (FRA)
Most recent  Lars Boom (NED) (2011)

The Tour of Britain is a cycle race, conducted over several stages, in which participants race from place to place across parts of Great Britain.

The event dates back to the first British stage races held just after the Second World War, since when various events have been described as the Tour of Britain, including the Milk Race, the Kellogg's Tour of Britain and the PruTour. The current version of the Tour of Britain is part of the UCI Europe Tour. In 2009, the Prostate Cancer Charity became the official charity partner of the Tour.[1]




The Tour of Britain, known for many years as the Milk Race, has its origins in a dispute between cyclists during the Second World War. The British administrative body, the National Cyclists' Union (NCU), had feared since the 19th century that massed racing on the roads would endanger all racing, including early-morning time trials and, originally, the very place of cyclists on the road.[2]

A race organised from Llangollen to Wolverhampton on 7 June 1942, in defiance of the NCU, led to its organisers and riders being banned. They formed a new body, the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC), which wanted not only massed racing but a British version of the Tour de France.[3]

The first stage, or multi-day, race in Britain was the Southern Grand Prix in Kent in August 1944.[4] It was won by Les Plume of Manchester; the first stage was won by Percy Stallard, the organiser of the Llangollen-Wolverhampton race in 1942.

The experience encouraged the BLRC to run a bigger race, the Victory Cycling Marathon, to celebrate the end of the war in 1945. It ran from Brighton to Glasgow in five stages and was won by Robert Batot of France, with Frenchmen in six places in the top 10, winners of the mountains competition and best team.

Chas Messenger, a BLRC official and historian, said: "No one had ever put on a stage race in this country, other than the Southern Grand Prix, and even fewer people had even seen one. So raw were they that Jimmy Kain (the organiser) even wrote to the Auto-Cycle Union – the body for motorcycle racing – and the flags used by them were taken as a guide to what was needed.[4] Kain recalled the precarious budget: "£44 entry fees and £130 of my own money and £16 when I went round with the hat after the Bradford stage."[5]

The writer Roger St Pierre said:

"It was reported that 20,000 watched the start but I've seen a picture which would indicate it was probably three or four times that number. What outsiders didn't see though was just what a ramshackle affair it all was, with riders finishing stages often miles longer than billed then having to find a bed for the night – with the poorer riders ending up spending the night huddled in barns, haylofts or even under the hedgerows."[6]

The BLRC was not recognised by the world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale and so it recruited its French riders from another rebel organisation, the communist Fédération Sportive et Gymnastique du Travail, using French café-owners in Soho, London, as their link.

Sponsors and politics

The Victory Cycling Marathon was run on what little money the BLRC could raise. Riders stayed in cheap boarding houses and officials used their own cars. In 1947, the News of the World gave £500 to the race, by then called Brighton-Glasgow. Within a year it pulled out again, concerned by the internal arguments that had bedevilled the BLRC from the start. The 1950 race was sponsored by Sporting Record, another newspaper, followed by the Daily Express in 1951.

The cycling official John Dennis said in 2002:

"The most effective sponsor of the Tour of Britain (the Daily Express) was lost as a result of the constant bickering between rival officials and organisations. I was the press officer to the Express publicity director, Albert Asher, and saw it all happen. He was upset by the petty disagreements and decided to support the new Formula 1 motor-racing instead."[7]

Sponsorship was taken up by the makers of Quaker Oats in 1954 and then, in 1958, by the Milk Marketing Board.

The Milk Race

The Milk Marketing Board (MMB) was a sales monopoly for dairy farmers in England and Wales. A semi-professional cyclist from Derby, Dave Orford, asked the MMB to pay for "Drink more milk" to be embroidered on the jersey of every semi-professional, or independent, rider in the country. The MMB could then advertise that races had been won because of the properties of milk and the winner would receive a £10 bonus as a result.

Orford met the MMB's publicity officer, Reg Pugh, at the board's headquarters in Thames Ditton, west of London. Orford said: "At the end of the discussion he stated that the MMB would prefer to sponsor a major international marathon. So the Milk Race, the Tour of Britain, was born, starting in 1958 and lasting for 35 years, the longest cycle sponsorship in the UK ever."[8]

The first two races were open to semi-professionals but from 1960 until 1984 it was open only to amateurs. From 1985 until 1993 the Milk Race was open to both amateurs and professionals. After 1993 the Milk Race ended as the MMB was wound up because of European monopoly laws.

Kellogg's Tour and PruTour

The professional Kellogg's Tour of Britain began in 1987 and eight editions were completed. This Tour, particularly in its early years, was characterised by very long hilly stages, a typical example being the Newcastle to Manchester stage via the Yorkshire Dales in the 1987 event. The Prudential plc-sponsored PruTour (1998–1999) ran twice. Concerns about safety during the races contributed to both events' demise through the withdrawal of sponsorship; in the case of the Kellogg's Tour this followed a member of the public driving head-on into the peloton in the Lake District,[9] and in the case of the PruTour a police motorcyclist being killed in a collision with a motorist near Worcester.[10]

'Tour of Britain' winners 1945–1999

Year Race name Rider status Winner Team/Country
1945 Victory Marathon amateur Robert Batot France
1946 Brighton-Glasgow am-ind Mike Peers Manchester
1947 Brighton-Glasgow am-ind George Kessock Paris Cycles
1948 Brighton-Glasgow am-ind Tom Saunders Dayton Cycles
1949 Brighton-Glasgow am-ind Geoff Clark ITP
1950 Brighton-Glasgow am-ind George Lander Fréjus Cycles
1951 Butlin Tour[11] amateur Stan Blair England
1951 Brighton-Glasgow amateur Ian Greenfield Comet CC
1951 Tour of Britain am-ind Ian Steel Viking Cycles
1952 Brighton-Glasgow amateur Bill Bellamy Romford CC
1952 Tour of Britain am-pro Ken Russell Ellis Briggs
1953 Brighton-Newcastle amateur Frank Edwards Norfolk Olympic
1953 Tour of Britain am-ind Gordon Thomas BSA Cycles
1954 Circuit of Britain amateur Viv Bailes Teesside
1954 Tour of Britain am-ind Eugène Tambourlini France
1955 Circuit of Britain amateur Des Robinson Yorkshire
1955 Tour of Britain am-ind Tony Hewson Sheffield
1956 Circuit of Britain amateur Dick McNeill North-east
1958 Milk Race am-ind Richard Durlacher Austria
1959 Milk Race am-ind Bill Bradley England
1960 Milk Race amateur Bill Bradley England
1961 Milk Race amateur Billy Holmes England
1962 Milk Race amateur Eugen Pokorny Poland
1963 Milk Race amateur Pete Chisman England
1964 Milk Race amateur Arthur Metcalfe England
1965 Milk Race amateur Les West Midlands
1966 Milk Race amateur Józef Gawliczek Poland
1967 Milk Race amateur Les West Britain
1968 Milk Race amateur Gösta Pettersson Sweden
1969 Milk Race amateur Fedor den Hertog Netherlands
1970 Milk Race amateur Jiri Manus Czechoslovakia
1971 Milk Race amateur Fedor den Hertog Netherlands
1972 Milk Race amateur Hennie Kuiper Netherlands
1973 Milk Race amateur Piet van Katwijk Netherlands
1974 Milk Race amateur Roy Schuiten Netherlands
1975 Milk Race amateur Bernt Johansson Sweden
1976 Milk Race amateur Bill Nickson Britain
1977 Milk Race amateur Said Gusseinov USSR
1978 Milk Race amateur Jan Brzeźny Poland
1979 Milk Race amateur Yuri Kashirin USSR
1980 Milk Race amateur Ivan Mitchenko USSR
1981 Milk Race amateur Sergei Krivosheev USSR
1982 Milk Race amateur Yuri Kashirin USSR
1983 Milk Race amateur Matt Eaton USA
1984 Milk Race amateur Oleg Czougeda USSR
1985 Milk Race pro-am Eric van Lancker Fangio
1986 Milk Race pro-am Joey McLoughlin ANC
1987 Milk Race pro-am Malcolm Elliott ANC
1987 Kellogg's Tour pro Joey McLoughlin ANC
1988 Milk Race pro-am Vasily Zhdanov USSR
1988 Kellogg's Tour pro Malcolm Elliott Fagor
1989 Milk Race pro-am Brian Walton 7-Eleven
1989 Kellogg's Tour pro Robert Millar Z-Peugeot
1990 Milk Race pro-am Shane Sutton Banana
1990 Kellogg's Tour pro Malcolm Elliott Teka
1991 Milk Race pro-am Chris Walker Banana
1991 Kellogg's Tour pro Phil Anderson Motorola
1992 Milk Race pro-am Conor Henry Ireland
1992 Kellogg's Tour pro Max Sciandri Motorola
1993 Milk Race pro-am Chris Lillywhite Banana
1993 Kellogg's Tour pro Phil Anderson Motorola
1994 Kellogg's Tour pro Maurizio Fondriest Lampre
1998 PruTour pro Stuart O'Grady Crédit Agricole
1999 PruTour pro Marc Wauters Rabobank

The modern tour

Stage 3 of the 2005 race passing through Honley, near Huddersfield


Rider Team
2004 Colombia Ardila, MauricioMauricio Ardila (COL) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
2005 Belgium Nuyens, NickNick Nuyens (BEL) Quick Step-Innergetic
2006 Denmark Pedersen, MartinMartin Pedersen (DEN) Team CSC
2007 France Feillu, RomainRomain Feillu (FRA) Agritubel
2008 France Lequatre, GeoffroyGeoffroy Lequatre (FRA) Agritubel
2009 Norway Boasson Hagen, EdvaldEdvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) Team Columbia-HTC
2010 Switzerland Albasini, MichaelMichael Albasini (SUI) Team HTC-Columbia
2011 Netherlands Boom, LarsLars Boom (NED) Rabobank

2004 Tour of Britain

The 2004 Tour of Britain was the first edition of the latest version of the Tour of Britain. It took place over five days in early September 2004, organised by SweetSpot in collaboration with British Cycling, and was the first Tour of Britain to be held since 1999.[12] Sponsored by the organisers of London's 2012 Olympics bid, it attracted teams such as T-Mobile and U.S. Postal Service. It was designated a 2.3 category race on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar.

The tour climaxed with a 45 miles (72 km) criterium in London, where an estimated 100,000 spectators saw a long break by Bradley Wiggins last until the penultimate lap, before Enrico Degano of Team Barloworld took the sprint on the line. The Colombian Mauricio Ardila, of Chocolade Jacques, won the race overall.[13]

2005 Tour of Britain

The 2005 race was run as a UCI 2.1 category in six stages starting in Glasgow on 30 August and finishing in London on 4 September:

2006 Tour of Britain

Roger Hammond in the 2006 Tour of Britain in London

The Tour of Britain 2006 took place from the 29 August to 3 September as a UCI category 2.1 event. Martin Pedersen and Andy Schleck of Team CSC won the overall and King of the Mountains classification, respectively. Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile Team) won the points classification and Johan van Summeren (Davitamon-Lotto) the sprints classification.

2007 Tour of Britain

The Tour of Britain was extended to seven days for 2007, with the extra day being used to run a stage in Somerset for the first time.

Instead of finishing in London, the 2007 race started in London and finished in Glasgow, which used the event to boost its bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. French rider Romain Feillu won overall, Mark Cavendish won the points competition and Ben Swift won the mountains competition.

2008 Tour of Britain

The tour increased by yet another day for 2008, with eight stages scheduled, from 7 to 14 September. The race began in London and finished in Liverpool.[14]

2009 Tour of Britain

The sixth edition of The Tour of Britain was also raced over eight days,12–19 September. The race started in Scunthorpe and finished in London.

2010 Tour of Britain

The 2010 edition of the Tour of Britain was held from 11 to 18 September.

2011 Tour of Britain

The 2011 edition of the Tour of Britain was held from 11 to 18 September. Stage Two was cancelled due to bad weather.[15] The general classification was won by Lars Boom.[16]


  1. ^ Tour Ride
  2. ^ "From James Moore to Laurent Fignon", Cyclist Monthly, Sept 1983
  3. ^ "100 years of racing", Cycling, 29 April 1978
  4. ^ a b Messenger, Chas (1998). Ride and be Damned. Harpenden: Pedal Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9780953409600. 
  5. ^ Letter to Percy Stallard, 1 January 1979
  6. ^ St Pierre, Roger, Cycling Plus, UK, undated
  7. ^ Fellowship News, Fellowship of Cycling Old Timers, issue 28, 2002
  8. ^ Private papers, January 2003
  9. ^ Robin Nicholl (10 August 1994). "Cycling: Rogue driver stuns riders". The Independent (UK). 
  10. ^ Martin Ayres (29 May 1998). "Cycling: Death of police escort rider cancels Tour of Britain stage". The Independent (UK). 
  11. ^ seven-stage race between Butlin holiday camps
  12. ^ Fotheringham, William (13 December 2003). "Plans for Tour of Britain to return". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Tour of Britain 2004". Tour of Britain. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Route". The Tour of Britain. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2008. 
  15. ^ "Tour of Britain: Second stage cancelled because of high winds". BBC Sport. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  16. ^ Fotheringham, William (18 September 2011). "Mark Cavendish warms up for Worlds with Tour of Britain stage win". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 18 September 2011. 

External links

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