The 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain will begin in South Wales for the first time as Newport and Carmarthenshire host the opening stage of Britain’s national Tour on Sunday 2 September.
Newport last hosted the Tour of Britain in 2004, while the final stage of the 2017 race passed through the city on its way to the overall finish in Cardiff.
It will mark the first time that the race has visited Carmarthenshire with the county set to welcome 120 of the world’s top professional cyclists next September for the start of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race.
Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Hosting the start of this iconic professional race and having an all Welsh stage is fantastic news for Wales. Since hosting the Tour of Britain for the first time in 2010, the event has established itself in the Welsh sporting calendar with the race visiting various locations across Wales almost every year since – and I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support the event.
“The Tour of Britain is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase Wales’ unique and beautiful landscape to the world, as well as highlighting our ability to host a variety of major events. The event gives cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step and spectators in Wales have always given the cyclists a real warm Welsh welcome and have created a fantastic atmosphere. I hope that people from across south Wales come out to support the cyclists as they travel from Carmarthenshire to Newport on the first day of the race in September.”
More details of Stage One, including the exact start location in Carmarthenshire, details of the route and where the race will finish in Newport will be announced at the national launch of the 2018 route on Tuesday 5 June.
Councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “This is the largest professional road cycling event in the UK and we are proud that organisers have chosen Carmarthenshire as the starting venue for the race.
“As a televised event this is a wonderful opportunity to show our county’s beautiful scenery to the world. No doubt it will also be a massive boost to the local economy with thousands of people involved in the race and turning out to watch.”
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “We are very excited to again be involved in the Tour and promise to give competitors the warmest of Newport welcomes as they cross the first finish line in the heart of our city.
“Newport boasts such a diverse landscape which lends itself perfectly to events such as the Tour – from flat, urban routes to challenging climbs and descents through beautiful countryside – we are sure the cyclists, supporters and spectators alike will enjoy the leg and their time in our city.”
Commenting on the announcement, OVO Energy Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said: “We have been working with our partners at the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire County Council for some time to put together this plan for the opening stage and visit the area for the first time, and are delighted to be able to confirm plans so spectators can begin to make their plans now for the 2nd September to join us for our opening leg.
“As the home of Welsh Cycling and the Wales National Velodrome it is fitting that the OVO Energy Tour of Britain will finish its opening stage of 2018 in the city and we look forward to working with Newport City Council and their partners to deliver the event.”
Commenting on the announcement Nick Smith, Chairman at Welsh Cycling said: “It is absolutely fantastic news for Wales to play host to the opening of Britain’s biggest international cycling race.
“Beginning the entire race in Carmarthenshire is truly fitting to the county’s commitment to cycling, as they strive to become the cycling hub of Wales following the recent refurbishment of the Carmarthen Velodrome as well as the current construction work on the Pembrey Closed Road Circuit.
“Locals and fans in Wales will not only have the opportunity to cheer on the best cycling talent on their very own door steps as they begin the first stage of the competition in Carmarthenshire; but also congratulate the riders as they cross the finish line at the home of Welsh Cycling at the Wales National Velodrome in Newport.”
The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step, taking place between Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 September 2018.