Below is a copy of a press release by Prudentuial, sponsors of the Prutour. The official web-page is at www.prutour.co.uk, and contains info on all aspects of the race, although it is overgraphicized - made up word there.
Prudential today announced details of the second annual Prutour, the UK’s premier cycle race and the fourth richest cycle race in the world, which this year takes place from Sunday 23rd to Saturday 29th May. In addition to its sponsorship of this prestigious sporting fixture, Prudential also revealed that it is to stage a major public cycle ride for charity, the Red Ride, on Sunday 16th May.
The seven day Prutour will see 18 elite international teams and national Olympic teams, each comprising six riders, competing over more than 732 miles of British roads - an average of 105 miles a day. And while it may sound exhausting, with a prize purse of £100,000 at stake, there is plenty to cycle for!
Due to the success of last year’s Prutour, the race has this year been upgraded to a 2.4 classification by the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the world governing body of cycling. Consequently, the race will this year attract an even more distinguished field. Top ranked trade teams already confirmed include US Postal Service, who won the team competition in last year’s Prutour, Credit Agricole and Rabobank.
The action will commence with a two hour circuit race in The City of Westminster (London) on 23rd May and finish on 29th May with spectacular circuits of Edinburgh. Challenging stages in between will comprise Medway to Portsmouth (24th May), Winchester to Bristol (25th May), Bristol to Swansea (26th May), Swansea to Birmingham (27th May), Liverpool to Blackpool (28th May), Carlisle to Edinburgh (29th May).
After completing the 111 mile stage from Medway, the riders will have two hours to recuperate before taking part in an individual time trial at Portsmouth. Racing against the clock, riders will leave the start ramp at one minute intervals to negotiate the short, but no doubt blustery 6km route on the seafront at Southsea.
The riders will take in more than 350 towns, cities and villages across England, Scotland and Wales. Travelling ahead of the race will be a cavalcade of eye-catching vehicles, bringing all the colour, drama and excitement of world class cycling to the doorsteps of millions. Channel Four will be broadcasting both live coverage and highlights of the action as it unfolds, while daily coverage will also once again be on Sky Sports.
A whole host of ancillary events are also planned at each stage start and finish location, with radio roadshows, celebrity appearances and entertainers. The Grenadier Guards will get the 1999 Prutour off to a rousing start in Westminster, where 100 city slickers and MP’s will also get on their bikes for a sponsored ’City Challenge’. Over the course of the Prutour, 336 young cyclists from schools local to the race route will also compete in the Impruve Schools Challenge’, held at each stage finish.
Other highlights include an International Women’s Criterium which will also be held on the opening day of the Prutour, 23rd May. This annual Prudential sponsored race, won last year by Debbie Mansveld of Holland, will be contested by 50 leading international riders, competing on the City of Westminster circuit over 45 minutes.
Britain’s cycling hero, Chris Boardman, was runner-up in last year’s Prutour, which was won by his Credit Agricole team-mate, Stuart O’Grady. Boardman comments: "The Prutour is a tremendous showcase for cycling and it provides me with a very special opportunity to compete in Britain once a year. I’m particularly cherishing the chance to race so close to my home town near Liverpool. "
"The Prutour is excellent preparation for the Tour de France and has been warmly received by teams such as ourselves, as word has got around about the quality of the event. With the new classification, the field looks set to be even stronger this year, but I certainly intend to give the race my best shot."
Clare Salmon, consumer marketing director at Prudential adds: "Last year’s Prutour captured the imagination of millions of people across Britain, who turned out to watch the colourful and thrilling spectacle of international stage cycle racing. We hope that they and many others will enjoy this year’s race and the vast array of entertainments planned at each stage start and finish. The 1999 Prutour certainly promises to be bigger and bolder than before and, with its new classification, even more fiercely contested."