In what promises to be a celebration of the recent achievements of British Cycling, the Tour of Britain returns this Sunday for its ninth edition.
Tour de France and Olympic Time Trial winner Bradley Wiggins will no doubt be the major attraction for spectators as the eight-stage race winds its way across Britain but he is also joined in the Team Sky team for the Tour of Britain by Mark Cavendish. Cavendish will be wearing his World Championship jersey for the very last time with those championships looming later in September.
Some of the other big names gracing the Tour include former Olympic road race champion Samuel Sánchez, two-time Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso, US sprinter Tyler Farrar and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, the UK’s rising star on the road.
The Tour of Britain is a 2.1-ranked event in the UCI Tour calendar and so attracts a number of the top WorldTour ProTeams.
Alongside Team Sky, this year’s Pro Teams include Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Sharp, Liquigas-Cannondale, Orica-GreenEdge and Vacansoleil-DCM.
British outfits Rapha-Condor-Sharp, Endura, Team Raleigh, Team UK Youth and IG Sigma Sport will be racing and hoping to get some much needed publicity for their sponsors with stage wins.
Each team will has six riders competing in the eight stages across the length of Britain. Rider line-ups have now been confirmed; click here to view all the teams and riders who will be racing in this ninth edition of the Tour.
The Tour of Britain’s Grand Depart will start this Sunday (September 9) in Ipswich. The race continues that day through Suffolk and Norfolk to the Norfolk Showground. In total 199km will be completed on the first day.
Day Two of The Tour of Britain sees the race start in Nottingham, then go cross country across the Peak District to a stage finish in Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside.
Stage Three sees the Tour return to the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway for the second year in succession with a stage from Jedburgh to Dumfries.
Stage Four heads to back into England with a ride from Carlisle to Blackpool.
Stoke-on-Trent continues to be a popular destination for the Tour of Britain and Stage Five sees the city host a whole stage of the race with a start and finish in the city centre.
Stage Six sees the Tour of Britain dip into Wales with a ride from Welshpool to Caerphilly. This is almost a carbon copy of the 2011 stage in Wales.
The South West of England always attracts some of the largest crowds and the Tour of Britain returns here once again with a stage from Barnstaple to Dartmouth.
There will be no grand finale in London this year due to the Olympics and Paralympics so the final stage of the Tour of Britain will finish this year in Surrey. This stage starts in Reigate and ends in Guildford after covering a 147km distance.
A more in depth review of each stage can be found on the Tour of Britain website.
There will be no live coverage on television of the event, despite the big names racing in the event. ITV4 will, however, be showing highlights of the Tour of Britain every evening.
Edit> ITV have announced today (September 6) that there will be live coverage of the Tour of Britain after all. Two hours of every stage will be broadcast on ITV4 as the stages gets to their end.
Tour of Britain 2012: ITV4 schedule
Stage One: Ipswich-Norfolk Showground
Sunday September 9
Stage Two: Nottingham-Knowsley Safari Park
Monday September 10
Stage Three: Jedburgh-Dumfries
Tuesday September 11
Stage Four: Carlisle-Blackpool
Wednesday September 12
Stage Five: Stoke-on-Trent
Thursday September 13
Stage Six: Welshpool-Caerphilly
Friday September 14
Stage Seven: Barnstaple-Dartmouth
Saturday September 15
Stage Eight: Reigate-Guildford
Sunday September 16