Meet Andy Hawes, the Tour of Britain’s route and technical director, who plays a key role in designing the race’s route.

Cycling Weekly spoke to him after the launch of the 2013 edition to see exactly how he comes up with the parcours for this country’s premier stage race.

What processes do you go through to come up with the route?
First, before we do any deciding, we listen to where the local councils want to take the race. They’re the stakeholder of each stage, and they will have an idea of what they want to do. We will have a look at shortest and the longest routes between the stage towns, and usually one that will takes in more towns and countryside, depending on what we’re looking for. For example, we were spoilt for choice when it came to mapping out the Stoke to Llanberis stage [stage four]. In the end, we opted for the quickest route into North Wales, which is a new area for us. I think we get to Wrexham within 53 kilometres of the start.

That considered, how quickly do you come up with the route?
We had some of the routes before last year’s race, and within six weeks of the end of the 2012 race, we had rough routes of all the stages. We continuously try to be ahead of schedule; we certainly always have one eye on the following year’s race.

Who else in involved in route design?
Mick [Bennett, race director] comes on some routing trips but obviously he is very busy with race as a whole. So far this year he has accompanied me on trips to North Wales & Devon this year. To get a complete picture of how the stage will work, I also travel with Inspector Bob Brayshaw from West Yorkshire Police, who is the ACPO liaison with British Cycling, and Steve Baxter. Steve complies our risk assessments when out driving the routes.

If there is a Tour Ride [recreational event] involved in a stage other members of the technical team are involved. I also liaise with Mark Leyland [the race’s start manager] as he helps create the neutralised part of the route through to KM 0.

How did the idea of a summit finish at Haytor come about?
Devon County Council were keen to have a start in Sidmouth and then have a summit finish at Haytor. So we looked at the site, checked if the race will work there, and it did. Devon have been great once again, andthey’re helping us have a full road closure through the centre of Exeter [passed during the stage] and on the final climb. The final four kilometres to the finish will be fully closed, as will the two kilometres after it.

Jon Tiernan-Locke tamed Haytor in 2011

How difficult is it to include a time trial in the race?
There are a lot more road closures involved, as it also has to be run under a full closure. So to include one, we have to find the right roads, venue and partner. Luckily, this has all come together with Knowsley. We’re very fortunate to have them on board, and the Highways Agency have agreed to close off junction two of the M57 junction [which partly falls on the course] for five hours. This is unprecedented in the UK.

How do you assign where sprints and feed zones, for example, will be?
This comes when we drive the stages in their entirety for the second and third time, which normally happens at the start of June. We also compile the data for the race manual [road furniture, narrow bridges, cattlegrids etc] during these trips.

2012 Yodel Sprints competition winner Pete Williams

How many other times do you drive the course beforehand?
We have a final route reece four weeks before the start of the race to check everything. We do it in real time, so we drive a Sunday stage on a Sunday, a Monday stage on a Monday and at the same times the race will be on.

Of all the stages you’ve designed for the race so far, which one did you enjoy the most?
The one that I wanted to ride the most was that from Jedburgh to Dumfries in last year’s race. But I’d like to ride this year’s Cumbria stage [Carlisle to Kendal] and the Surrey stage [Epsom to Guildford] will be great a route for anyone.

Related links

Tour of Britain 2013 route revealed

  • Dick Thomas

    When you are designing a course you should take into account local residents. I frankly couldn’t care less about cycling and we have now got three weekends in July, August and September ruined because road through our village are going to be closed and we won’t be able to get out. It seems that cycling thinks it owns the country but to most of us they are a pain in the neck.

  • roginozr

    Looks good to me. Though Caerphilly is a good climb, it is too straightforward to that point (apart from the first bit to Llani(dloes).I well remember in the 80s ,driving from Stourbridge and then walking the last bit, to watch the then Milk Race go over Bwlch-Y-Groes (Pass of the Cross).Some riders had to walk the last part. It is the hardest and highest climb in Wales. I hope it is featured in the next few years. A good stage would be Machynlleth -Bwlch-Bala-back to Dinas Mawddwy,then Bwlch-Bala again,then to Llangollen with a mountain finish by the Ponderosa cafe at the top of the Horseshoe Pass which is accessible from many centres of population.In fact ,you could watch the 1st Bwlch ascent then drive over the back road to near the top of the Horseshoe to see the finish!!

  • Mark Jones

    The route looks good and I’m glad to see some different routes for a change (how will Hugh Porter cope without Gun Hill?). But it could be a lot better.

    The Lake District stage only has one mountain pass and a small detour could have taken the riders back up to Ambleside and over The Struggle before heading down the Kirkstone Pass and back into Kendal. That said, a finish up Beast Banks will be good to see.

    The last 50/60 miles to Caerphilly looks to follow the same route as last year, so no imagination there and taking the riders over the easiest route through the Beacons with the only real action of the day likely to occur in the last 10 miles.

    The Queen Stage should be good but appears too soon into the race, so the Surrey stage will not impact on the GC and the London criterium is just so boring and is a waste of a day’s racing (all well and good after a 3 week Grand Tour but not a one-week race).

    So it looks good but would be better if 2.HC and about 12 days running over 2 weekends and visiting some more cities (do Sweetspot keep these for the Tour Series?). I would prefer to see the race start in London and finish in Glasgow/Edinburgh with GC deciding stages in Yorkshire and the Lakes towards the end. Wait to see what happens next year if ASO get the race as though Sweetspot have done a fantastic job with the race in the last 10-11 years it still could be so much better especially with the popularity of the sport at the moment in the UK.