The 2008 Tour of Britain was unveiled at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, with news of an extra stage and daily television coverage from ITV.
The eight-day race will start in London on September 7 and cover 730 miles before finishing in Liverpool. Exact route details will be rolled out over the coming weeks at individual presentations in the regions hosting the tour.
Technical Director Mick Bennett confirmed the selection of four British teams; Rapha-Condor-Recycling, Plowman Craven, Pinarello and Team GB. All 16 of last year?s teams have applied to ride, plus another 12 squads, leaving Bennett with some hard decisions to make.
?We have had applications from everybody from High Road to Slipstream,? said Bennett. ?Teams that rode last year will have first shout, but also we monitor how teams are riding throughout the year. Slipstream wrote to us and we like their ethics and how they ride, so we have sent them an invitation.? The final line-up will be announced 70 days before the race when contracts have been signed, but it looks like British cycling fans will have plenty of home riders to cheer.
Simon Barnes, from Plowman Craven, expressed relief at the announcement of his team?s inclusion: ?It?s good to have official confirmation,? he said. ?We only had a verbal invite previously. Last year, we had a couple of weeks to prepare after the Tour of Ireland, so it is good to know so far in advance.?
Hugh Roberts, CEO for the tour, announced daily television coverage on ITV4. UK cycling is on a roll after the 2007 Tour de France Grand Depart and the overwhelming success at the World Track Championships, and looks set to continue with the hour-long nightly highlights.
New for this year?s race are the first visit by the tour to the North East, with stage six running from Darlington to NewcastleGateshead, and a unique central London opening stage. The familiar Westminster circuit has been extended to take in the Thames embankment before turning at the Tower of London and retracing.
Stage 1 London
Stage 2 Milton Keynes ? Newbury
Stage 3 Chard ? Burnham on Sea
Stage 4 Worcester ? Stoke-on-Trent
Stage 5 Hull ? Dalby Forest
Stage 6 Darlington ? NewcastleGateshead
Stage 7 Glasgow ? Dumfries & Galloway
Stage 8 Blackpool – Liverpool