Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett: We want to be the best warm-up race for the World Championships
Aug 31 2017 03:17 pm CET

Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett: We want to be the best warm-up race for the World Championships
Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett: We want to be the best warm-up race for the World Championships
Image: Tour of Britain logo

The 2017 edition of the Tour of Britain kicks off in the Scottish city of Edinburgh on Sunday, September 3rd. Race director Mick Bennett answered some of CyclingPub's questions about the successful 2.HC event.

By Jonathan Roorda

This year's edition of the Tour of Britain will feature ten WorldTour teams and many top riders looking to prepare themselves for the upcoming World Championships in Bergen, Norway. One of the most important names on the start list is without a doubt Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data, who returns to racing after his crash in the Tour de France.

The course starts in the northern part of the country, with stages three and four located in the center and the remaining four stages in the south. A time trial is included for stage 5 and will offer a good impression of who is in shape and who isn't ahead of Bergen.

With a few days to go until the start, Tour of Britain director Mick Bennett took a moment of his time to answer some questions.

In your opinion, how has the Tour of Britain developed since it returned in 2004?

Mick Bennett: There has been a huge development in the Tour of Britain since it was reintroduced back in 2004. It started out as a 2.2 category race taking place over 5 days and now it is a 2.HC category race over 8 days that takes place on the world stage. A great example of that is that for the 2004 edition the television coverage consisted of one highlights programme after the race had finished. For this year we now have full live TV coverage across all 8 Stages as the demand for wanting to see the race has continued to increase.

Which criteria did the organisation have in mind when designing the route for the 2017 Tour of Britain?

For us, one of the main criteria is the World Championships course that takes place shortly after our race. We like to be viewed as the best warm-up race for those Championships so we work off the style of that course to make sure our route is designed to be a good test for anyone looking to pull on those Rainbow Stripes. For this year that meant a sprinter-friendly route. In an ideal world we'd like to be a 10 day race which would allow us to cover more of England, Scotland and Wales but for now we try and get to as many areas as possible with the logistics of transfers between Stages.

Ten WorldTour teams will take part in the race this year. What does their presence mean to the Tour of Britain?

It's brilliant having 10 WorldTour teams at the race and their presence brings us instant kudos. Everyone sits up and takes notice when you have that many WorldTour teams all sending really strong squads. It's also great for us as they all go away from the race and help communicate our message to the wider cycling community. By going back and saying 'Wow, that Tour of Britain is a great race!' it helps us gain even more prominence.

What would you consider to be a successful edition of the Tour of Britain?

If we look back in a month's time and see that the overall winner of the Tour of Britain or someone who won a number of Stages went on to be World Champion then we'll know it was successful. Likewise if the winner of the Individual Time Trial on Stage 5 goes on to be World Time Trial Champion then we'll be thrilled.

Do you believe that in the future, the Tour of Britain should be granted a UCI WorldTour status given the fact that many top riders and teams choose to take part?

We've actually made it our decision to not apply for UCI WorldTour status. Where we are at HC status suits us really well because it allows us to include a national Great Britain team and 4 domestic teams who all add a huge amount to the race and are important for our sponsors. We find that the mix of WorldTour , Pro-Continental and Continental teams, combined with 6 riders per team, leads to rally exciting, aggressive racing which is massively important to our race.
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