By Nigel Wynn
Alex Dowsett, Luke Rowe and Timothy Kennaugh are among the six riders that will race under the Great Britain banner at the Tour de l'Avenir under-23s stage race in France, starting on Sunday (September 5-12).
Team GB will comprise: George Atkins, Mark Christian, Alex Dowsett, Andrew Fenn, Timothy Kennaugh and Luke Rowe, with Jonathan Mould, Erick Rowsell and Christopher Whorral on standby as reserve riders.
The Tour de l'Avenir has established itself as the toughest and most prestigious race for under-23s, and has served as a springboard for young riders wishing to step up to the senior elite level. Past winners include Denis Menchov, Lars Bak, Jan Bakelandts, Johan Bruyneel, Laurent Fignon, Miguel Indurain and Greg Lemond.
This year's event comprises of a 7km prologue on Sunday in Vierzon, followed by seven road stages including a final 13.5km individual time trial. Twenty teams take part this year.
Luke Rowe returns to the race having put in a strong performance last year, finishing in the top ten on four stages. Peter Kennaugh, who is currently riding in the Vuelta a Espana for Team Sky, finished as Britain's highest placed rider in 16th spot, and was runner-up in the climbers' classification. Kennaugh's younger brother Timothy takes part this year.
Last year's race was won by 2009 under-23 road world champion Romain Sicard of France, with American Tejay Van Garderen in second. Van Garderen signed with HTC-Columbia and is also currently riding the Vuelta a Espana.
One British rider to watch out for in the time trials this year is Alex Dowsett, making his return to GB colours after scoring gold in the European under-23 time trial in July. Dowsett has spent the season riding for the US-based Trek-Livestrong development team.
British Cycling Olympic Development Academy coach Max Sciandri will undertake directeur sportif duties for the team.
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