This week's image is not a photograph, but the cover from the 1954 Tour of Britain race programme, when the Tour consisted of a 13 stage continuous relay around the country.  Starting out in Great Yarmouth, riders worked their way north via Manchester and Harrogate to Glasgow, before making their way down the west coast and across Wales via Prestatyn, Llandudno, Weston-super-Mare and Torquay, then pushing on for the last stage from Bournemouth to London, finishing at Alexandra Palace.  Here's a vintage map of the course.  Riding 1461 miles over 13 days on a steel bike, no wonder the cover model with his square jaw and Biggles goggles looks hard as nails.



The Tour of Britain has a strange origin. It came about following an argument between rival cycling organisations during the Second World War about the validity of racing on Britain's roads, with the National Cyclists Union (a precursor of today's British Cycling) worried that racing would lead to all cyclists being banned from the roads.

Of course, none of the teams competing in the 2014 modern Tour of Britain will be worried about being banned, at least not from the roads.  The teams who will compete were announced this week; this year's race has been elevated to 2.HC level by the UCI and forms part of the European Pro Tour.  Sir Bradley Wiggins will defend Team Sky's title against Belkin Pro Cycling, Tinkoff Saxo, and Giant Shimano among others.   After a disastrous summer, other pro teams can smell blood and will be keen to spoil Team Sky's party on their home turf.  Belkin Pro Cycling's Lars Boom won the Tour in 2011, and also had a famous victory on the cobble stage of the Tour de France this year.  If the weather stays wet and stormy, perhaps he will ride in Britain and succeed again?

This year's Tour of Britain kicks off on the 7th September in Liverpool, and - like the 1954 race - concludes in London 8 stages later with a high velocity circuit race along the Embankment and the Mall on Sunday 14th September.