Top cycling event has art contest and Dutch master

Mathieu van der Poel (archive picture by Sportfoto Photo Agency/Bart Hazen
Mathieu van der Poel (archive picture by Sportfoto Photo Agency/Bart Hazen

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain’s National Land Art competition is returning, after the inaugural edition in 2018 captured the imagination of race fans across the UK.

Communities, schools, clubs, businesses, land owners and farmers are once again being asked to come up with eye-catching creations in support of Britain’s most prestigious international cycle race, which returns for its 16th modern edition in September.

The event begins in Glasgow’s George Square on Saturday, September 7, finishing on Deansgate in Manchester city centre on September 14.

Stage two, ‘The Scottish Borders Stage’, spans 166.4km and takes place on September 8.

Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel, the world’s hottest cycling talent, will ride the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for the first time.

The 24-year-old Dutchman will lead his Corendon-Circus team a as the final part of his key preparations for success at the UCI World Road Race Championships in the UK later the same month.

Van der Poel has been one of the standout names of the 2019 cycling season so far, taking five victories on the road, including the prestigious Amstel Gold Race in April, as well as becoming World, European and Dutch cyclo-cross champion.

It will be the debut of both van der Poel and his Belgian Corendon Circus UCI ProContinental team in the event.

Mathieu van der Poel, who is also the current Dutch road race champion said: “I’m happy to go to the Worlds and to have the occasion to get to know the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in the weeks before.

“I’m really happy that the organiser gives our team the chance to participate for the first time and at the same time helps me preparing for the Worlds in the best possible way. Of course, we’ll study the roadbook in order to decide in which stages we will try to go for a stage win.”

Victory in the Amstel Gold Race came during a thrilling Spring Classics campaign that also saw van der Poel win the Dwars van Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl single day World Tour races, and finish fourth in the legendary Tour of Flanders.

He recently continued his breakout season by taking his first ever UCI mountain bike World Cup victory in May.

Race director Mick Bennett said: “We are excited that Mathieu, his team and the Dutch federation have identified the OVO Energy Tour of Britain as a key part of his road calendar in 2019 and look forward to welcoming him to the race. Like many, I was thrilled to see his performance in the Amstel Gold Race this Spring, and am delighted that British fans will now get to see this amazing talent in action first hand.”

Last year’s National Land Art competition attracted over 50 entries, and was won by group of North Devon farmers from South Molton. Their giant bike creation, which comprised 19 tractors, 16 all-terrain vehicles, a 13-tonne excavator and one slurry tanker wrapped in plastic, impressively featured moving wheels, pedals and chain.

A panel comprising Mick Bennett, ITV4 presenter Rebecca Charlton and representatives from race organiser SweetSpot will decide the top three pieces of art at the end of this year’s event.

ITV4 will once again screen live free-to-air coverage flag-to-flag of each stage in the UK, along with a nightly highlights programme of the best of the action.