Only a trio of Brits will take to this month's WorldTour event in Belgium and the Netherlands
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was the only Brit to take to the start of the first WorldTour event post-Tour de France when he rolled out on stage one of the Tour of Poland earlier in August, but three Brits will now take to the start at the Eneco Tour on Monday.
Unsurprisingly, two out of those three Brits feature in the Team Sky squad for the Benelux race, which will see riders take on climbs and sections of some of the season’s best one-day Classics, including the Amstel Gold Race, Liège Bastogne Liège and the Tour of Flanders.
Here we take a look at the three riders lining up as the only British representation this week.
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
There aren’t many stage races on the WorldTour calendar which play to the advantage of an out-and-out Classics specialist like Ian Stannard, but Eneco Tour is one which he’s unlikely to want to miss.
Even after a gruelling Tour de France which saw Stannard support Chris Froome throughout, the 28-year-old goes into the Eneco Tour marked down as Sky’s likely leader, in a race which has seen riders of a similar vain take overall victory in the past.
It won’t be easy for Stannard though. The three opening stages will suit the sprinters and shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a rider of his power to navigate without losing too much time, but the fourth day’s 14km time trial and the following two stages will prove crucial in Stannard potentially just cutting his losses.
Stage five and six see the riders take on climbs from the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège respectively, with two tough finishing circuits which could be more suited to Stannard’s Norwegian teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug.
The final stage into the Geraardsbergen will be more Stannard’s style with Tour of Flanders cobbled climbs along the route, but it feels more likely it’ll be a search for a stage win by this point after the two days preceding the finale.
Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEdge)
The Eneco Tour will be Adam Blythe’s fifth WorldTour event since stepping back up to cycling’s premier level with Orica-GreenEdge this year, having last competed at that level in April’s Paris-Roubaix. Since then he’s been riding predominantly in support of young sprinting prospect Caleb Ewan, but managed to pull off a third place overall finish for himself in the Tour of Korea in June.
Now the 25-year-old is back riding in the WorldTour and will be working for the Australian team in support of Belgian rider Jens Keukeleire, who took a top-10 last year at the Eneco Tour and will be aiming higher in the GC.
With rumours that Orica won’t offer the Blythe a new deal when his one-year contract expires at the end of this season, any opportunity to impress will be valuable if he’s to secure employment with a team in the top tier for 2016.
He’s potentially the rider with strongest sprint in the Orica squad at the race, which means he could be given some leeway on the opening three stages which are relatively sprinter friendly.
And with the likes of André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) taking to the start, any high placings in the bunch finishes will certainly do Blythe a favour in in attracting a new team for next year, with Tinkoff-Saxo already touted as seeking his services.
Andy Fenn (Team Sky)
While he’ll be charged with looking after the likes of Ian Stannard and Sky’s sprinter Elia Viviani, Andy Fenn will looking to gain valuable experience on his debut Eneco Tour appearance as he continues to build towards a future as a potential Classics contender.
Having joined Sky from Omega-Pharma – Quick-Step for this year, the 25-year-old, who won the 2008 junior Paris-Roubaix, has quietly gone about his work and managed to break into the Sky Classics squad as he was unable to do with the Belgian team which puts so much emphasis on one-day success.
A powerful rouleur with a decent sprint, the Eneco Tour will be another chance for Fenn to prove his value to the team as we reach the back-end of the 2015 season.