Stage five of this year’s Tour of Britain race will take place in Felixstowe, one of our most loved seaside locations in Suffolk. The stage will begin and end in the port town, and the route will include a clockwise loop through the picturesque villages of Chelmondiston, East Bergholt, Hadleigh, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Framlingham, Leiston, and Woodbridge. This stage is set to be the longest in the 2023 edition and marks the race’s return to Suffolk after its last visit in 2017.
Notably, the final six kilometers of stage five will replicate the exciting finale of the Women’s Tour in 2021. It was during this stage that the then-world champion, Elisa Balsamo, secured a memorable victory in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators.
What Can the Riders Expect when they tackle Sleepy Suffolk?
The 192.4km route takes in some very familiar roads for the peloton, having ridden a large proportion of the parcours on several occasions when the Tour has visited previously. Characterised by fast-rolling B-roads, expect Strava KOMs to be swallowed up with ease across the whole course, regardless of wind direction or strength!
Some peculiar aspects of the route for me include the very narrow lanes from Shotely through to Holbrook, barely wide enough for an SUV let alone a 100+ rider peloton, and the following convoy. If the breakaway is not yet established by this point, expect some fast and furious racing around the tight undulating corners with riders attempting to get away, as it’s easy to get out of sight along these lanes with steep banks and tall hedgerows.
Immediately after this section the second of only two official KOM points on the route (Freston Hill being the first) come at The Royal Hospital School, just at the top of Primrose Hill. Current Strava KOM times indicate average speeds of 27.16mph, so it’s not a hill that is going to cause the international peloton any real issues in getting up, and classifying it as a hill I am sure will cause derision with some.
The market town of Hadleigh hosts the only intermediate sprint of the stage. Expect to see the likes of Fernando Gaviria, Wout van Aert, and Sam Bennett battle for bonus seconds to claim the coveted green sprints classification. The pace will be high as the peloton jostles for position coming out of Layham, and with this being the only intermediate sprint, it will be keenly contested.
I expect these riders to also compete for the flat sprint finish along Sea Road in Felixstowe. The breakaway will be kept on a short leash throughout and reeled in along the fast and flat roads from Snape into Woodbridge. If Wout van Aert is high on the general classification for the overall Tour of Britain title, expect to see his Jumbo-Visma teammates controlling the pace on the run-in through Trimley.
One of the world’s greatest-ever cyclists, competing for a sprint win outside the arcades of Felixstowe, it can’t get much better than that! To witness it, you may have to get there early to beat the crowds as it’s expected to be a packed finish, especially if the sun shines on the Suffolk Coast.
Just don’t expect to see any of the riders in the queue to get a post-race fish and chips, or having fun in the penny arcade in the evening…
Riders to Watch
From a home riders standpoint, there are currently 24 UK and Irish riders on the start list when the race kicks off. Riders to watch are previous KOM jersey winner Jacob Scott of Bolton Equities Black Spoke, World and Olympic XC MTB champion Tom Pidcock of Ineos Grenadiers, and Cycle Evolution customer, Alexander Richardson of Saint Piran.
We will be there with cameras in hand at the start and finish. Is there anything you would like us to capture or see? Let us know!