We speak to Alex Dowsett, Nicholas Roche, Scott Thwaites and Liam Holohan ahead of the eight-day national tour.

Ahead of what is likely going to be the toughest-fought edition of the modern Tour of Britain, which starts this afternoon, Cycling Weekly spoke to a number of riders at last night’s team presentation in Liverpool.

Here’s what they had to say.

ALEX DOWSETT (Movistar)
“The time-trial [on stage 8a in London] is my main focus, but we’ve got to wait all week for that. I like the circuit there and won there in 2011.  The short time trial does suit me; I can do short and long time trials, the only problem is that a lot more guys can do them. It will come down to seconds, there will be a lot of guys on the same time as it’s short and flat.

“I have aspirations of overall as well but that could be decided at The Tumble so we will see what happens. [Enrique] Sanz and [Ion] Izagirre are much better climbers than I am and both have came off the Tour so will have good form and we have a good team here.”

Alex Dowsett, British men's road race national championships 2014

Alex Dowsett, British men’s road race national championships 2014

NICOLAS ROCHE (Tinkoff-Saxo)
“Hopefully the race suits me! I hadn’t quite realised how difficult the whole week will be. I concentrated on stage three [which finishes atop The Tumble], which I know from back from the Junior Tour of Wales. I remember the cattle grids! But almost every day there is a technical section, a little drag or some steep climb. I’m going to have to try and sprint, which I haven’t done for a while, so I’m looking forward to it.

“Knowing Wiggo, when he says he’s looking to win something, he’s not normally far off. I trust his word in saying he’s ready for it. I think [NetApp-Endura’s Leopald] König has a chance – I didn’t know he was riding until I saw him a minute ago! I thought ‘damn, another one!’ He’ll be there, he proved in the Tour he can ride a good time trial and he is an exceptional climber. In the sprints he can get into good positions.”

SCOTT THWAITES (NetApp-Endura)
“Sam [Bennett] is definitely a good option for us. There are plenty of stages that might end in sprints so we will have a look at that. I’ll be mainly be in a supporting role. Maybe in some of the longer stages, I’ll keep my options open.

Looking back now I think the Tour [de France] might have been a bit too much for me, I was pretty tired. It was maybe a good thing to keep me out and it allowed me to focus on the Commonwealths. I guess it’s better to come out of a season with a Commonwealth medal than to have just ridden around the Tour and just ridden around the Commonwealths.”

Bauer-&-Thwaites-Sprint

LIAM HOLOHAN (Madison-Genesis)
“We’re going to be aggressive from the start, we’re going to try and get in some breakaways. I think with the combination of the time trial and hill-top finish, the GC isn’t for us.

“Last year we tried to put our eggs in one basket with Ian, but with his crash it didn’t go to plan. Then we switched to plan B halfway through. We have guys who can get in the breaks. There are three or four hard stages in the middle of the race, which suit me as I tend to stronger as stage races go on.”