The Tour of Britain first hit the world cycling scene in its current incarnation back in 2004 and has subsequently become one of the year’s most hotly anticipated competitions, especially in the UK.
Putting professional cyclists to the test across eight stages, the 2015 event covered a total distance of just over 900 miles and spanned the length and breadth of the country, from Edinburgh to London and many places in between.
The tour will be back again in September, but here is a look back at the events of the 2015 Tour of Britain to get cycling fans excited about the return of the event later in the year.
Many of the biggest names in professional cycling participated in last year’s tour, with major teams represented and many of the sport's top personalities present.
The likes of Team Sky, Movistar Team and Tinkoff-Saxo were all present and correct at the starting line, representing the UCI Pro line-up. There was also the Great Britain national team, together with Continental Teams including Team Raleigh and WIGGINS, from founder Bradley Wiggins.
The presence of these teams at the tour was on an invitational basis. The teams were hand-picked because they represented the best in the sport at the moment. And with riders such as Mark Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Graham Briggs all participating, a diverse range of talent was on display from a range of cycling backgrounds.
The first stage began in Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey in Wales, before taking a winding route onto the mainland encompassing hilly climbs and moderate descents. The 110 mile route was eventually conquered first by Italian rider Elia Vivani for Teram Sky, who took just over four hours and 26 minutes to cross the line in Wrexham. Mark Cavendish secured second place for Etixx-Quick-Step.
Stage two took the riders to Clitheroe in Lancashire and was another hilly stage, slightly shorter than the first and with a finishing point far to the north in the town of Colne. Czech cyclist Petr Vakoc took first place, pipping Spain’s Juan Jose Lobato to the post by just seven seconds in a tightly packed sprint finish.
The delightful Cumbrian town of Cockermouth was the starting point for stage three, with riders facing a fairly flat ride covering the 134 miles to Floors Castle across the border in Scotland. Victory once again went to Viviani, while Lobato came in second but managed to maintain the lead in the general classification after a solid result.
For stage four, the Scottish capital Edinburgh played host to the riders, although they quickly escaped its famously hilly roads and set out for Blyth over an 84 mile route which was again predominantly flat. Although Lobato remained at the head of the general classification rankings, first place went to 20 year old Columbian racer Fernando Gaviria, cementing the importance of the Tour of Britain as a proving ground for young riders.
The most mountainous stage of the tour came in its fifth day, starting in Prudhoe and heading all the way to Hartside Fell back down in Cumbria. And it was without a doubt a more challenging experience for many of the less experienced riders, with the professional veteran Wout Poels of the Netherlands taking first place for Team Sky, while Norwegian rider Edvald Boasson Hagen came in second.
Things were a little more civilised for stage six, which covered a 117 mile route from Stoke-on-Trent to the city of Nottingham. Hagen came in second, behind Italian rider Matteo Trentin, enabling him to secure first place in general classification.
The penultimate stage began in Fakenham and moved quickly across mostly flat terrain towards Ipswich in East Anglia. Another veteran rider, Andre Greipel of Germany, rode to victory in this instance for his team Lotto-Soudal, ahead of Team Sky’s Viviani.
Stage eight took an appropriately grand route throughout London, covering 58 miles of streets over the course of which Viviani was once again found to be the superior cyclist. However, in spite of his efforts it was Hagen of Norway who managed to come out on top overall, ahead of Poels and the UK’s very own Owain Doull.
In fact the points victory also went to Doull, while fellow Brit rider Peter Williams took the accolades for both mountain and sprint performance over the course of the 2015 Tour of Britain.
The team victory went to Cannondale-Garmin, which came in ahead of Team Sky in second place with a margin of five and a half minutes.
With new routes on the cards for the 2016 Tour of Britain and new parts of the country to be covered, it is all set to replicate the success and public interest of last year’s exciting race when it begins in September.