Five riders to watch at the Tour of Britain

From hot faves to wildcards – keep your eye out for these names at the British stage race

shot of the peloton on stage five of the 2022 Tour of Britain
(Image credit: Alex Whitehead / Tour of Britain)

The Tour of Britain begins on 3 September with a stage based in the UK's cycling heartland of Manchester. While numerous international races in the UK seem to have been consigned to the results sheet of history, the Tour of Britain remains.

Ranked UCI 2.Pro, even for the big WorldTour names it's not a small deal, while for the domestic riders in Continental teams, it's their Tour de France for the year. The motivation it kindles, as well as the home advantage, seems to give those home riders wings, and it's perfectly usual to see them duking it out in the final alongside the WorldTour greats.

Here is a mix of names to look out for over the next week of racing.

Tom Pidcock

Tom Pidcock rides in a chasing group on stage 20 of the 2023 Tour de France

(Image credit: Marco Bertorello / Getty Images)

(Ineos Grenadiers) GBR, 24

Depending, perhaps, on the condition and the motivation of a certain Belgian Jumbo-Visma rider, Tom Pidcock could win this race. Having come second in last year's shortened race, he might feel he has unfinished business here.

This has been a successful year for the Yorkshire rider, with a win at Strade Bianche and a strong GC showing in the Tour de France, plus victory in the World Championship cross-country mountain bike at Glentress.

Most of the hardest riding comes at the end of this year's ToB, so we may be kept guessing until the end as to whether Pidcock is to make a play for victory.

Wout Van Aert

Wout van Aert

(Image credit: Getty Images)

(Jumbo-Visma) Bel, 28

All eyes will be on Wout Van Aert, last year's winner. On paper, he is the top favourite to win the race, even if he has had a year in which wins have been fairly sparse by the Belgian's high standards.

He won the recent World Gravel Championship at Houffalize (by nine minutes no less), but up until then his only wins have been at the Belgian National TT and E3 back in March. 

Second and fifth in the recent Worlds road and TT are clearly world-class rides, but only first place is good enough for Van Aert. Expect him to address that at the Tour of Britain.

Ethan Vernon

Ethan Vernon wears the points jersey after stage four of the 2023 Deutschland Tour

(Image credit: Christof Koepsel / Getty Images)

(Great Britain) GBR, 23

Two seasons in the WorldTour means Ethan Vernon, who leads the Great Britain team in this year's Tour of Britain, is likely to be a different rider both physically and mentally compared to when he last raced the Tour of Britain in 2021.

Since then he has spent two seasons at the Quick Step WorldTour team, and taken an impressive eight wins – his biggest coming in a sprint finish on stage one of this year's Tour de Romandie.

He'll be up against fast finishers like Sam Bennett and Fernando Gaviria at the Tour of Britain, but with the home advantage he will be gunning for stage wins.

Alexandar Richardson

Alex Richardson

(Image credit: SW Pix)

(Saint Piran) GBR, 33

One of the strongest riders in the domestic peloton, Richardson spent two years with Alpecin-Fenix before returning to the UK fold and signing for the Cornish Saint Piran team.

Last year Richardson showed his mettle with a third place on the lumpy stage three to Sunderland, and has the potential to register another podium this time round.

A good season for Richardson so far has included a second win at the prestigious Lincoln Grand Prix, and the early-season Jock Wadley Memorial in March.

Magnus Sheffield

Magnus Sheffield wears the young riders jersey at the 2023 Tirreno-Adriatico

(Image credit: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

(Ineos Grenadiers) USA, 24

The US powerhouse has a good track record in the short stage races, having taken fourth overall at the Tour Down Under and second at the Tour of Norway this year.

However, pure physical condition will only be one aspect of his ride at the ToB, as this will be his first race back since crashing at high speed at the Tour de Suisse alongside Gino Mäder – a crash in which the Italian tragically died and Sheffield was left concussed.

It is sure to be an emotionally charged return for the 24-year-old who, if recovered enough, could certainly challenge for stages and support Tom Pidcock in any GC aspirations.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.