Tour of Britain 2007 final podium

With the biggest event on the national calendar, the Tour of Britain, fast approaching, took a peek behind the scenes with exclusive interviews with the managers of the five British-based teams in the race.

All five said that their riders are ready to ride and even the presence of the trio of Hamilton, Sevilla and Botero is not dampening their spirits.

Read on to see how the teams are shaping up before Sunday.

Great Britain national team manager, Max Sciandri

How?s the team looking for next week?

?It?s looking quite good, I?m really looking forward to it and so are the young lads. (Ben) Swift will be really good. ?Swifty? is up for everything, the sprint on the first day and the King of the Mountains (again) but we?ll see how Hayles is going. Hayles is up for it, everybody?s up for it!?

What objectives do you have for the race?

?A stage win would be really good. A result on the GC would also be good. But the most important thing is to do well as a team?.

Does any particular stage take your fancy?

?Not really, we?ll just take it day by day and see how it goes. Weather-wise as well?.

What do you think of the decision to invite the Rock Racing trio of Sevilla, Botero and Hamilton?

?I?m not really interested in that part of it. I?m more concerned about our young guys?.

Plowman Craven manager, Garry Beckett

How?s the team shaping up for next week?

?Alex Higham has come into the squad for Tony Gibb. ?Gibby? got taken out by a pedestrian a couple of weeks ago and fractured the radius in his right arm. I am a bit concerned that we missed the Tour of Ireland and the lack of racing we have had. On the other hand, I been closely monitoring the training the lads have been doing and they are really fresh ? they?re like greyhounds in the traps. I drove round the country yesterday and talked with most of the lads on a one-to-basis, and they are all keen?.

What aspirations do you have for the race?

?We need to get out there and see how they are going. Tyler Hamilton is going well at the moment. I also have to give O?Grady a mention, although the steep hills might take some of the foreign riders by surprise?.

Does any particular stage take your fancy?

?We have got two boys from the West Country, so stage three from Chard to Burnham-on-Sea will suit Simon Richardson and Alex Higham. That part of the world might also suit Evan Oliphant, especially if it?s raining ? the poor sod has trained in the rain for the last three weeks!?

Is it a good decision to invite Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla to the Tour of Britain?

?On a personal level, I have got no time for cheats. At the same time, with the history of what has happened in our sport, we have to say ?well this stuff happened, and has happened for decades, but there is a line in the sand now, boys. If you do it after this, God help you??.

Pinarello-Canditv manager, Phil Griffiths

Are the team in good shape for Sunday?

?Yes. The team was put to its biggest test last week in the Tour of Ireland. It put them under quite a bit of pressure to look after Russ [Downing], and the lads excelled themselves, and were complimented by foreign team managers and riders alike.

They are up for it?.

What aspirations do you have for the race?

?The same again. We always go for a stage win. That is the minimum requirement, but we know, with Russ, that we will be looking at GC as well?.

Does any particular stage take your fancy?

?The new sponsor, Canditv, are based in Stoke-on-Trent, and we have a stage finish very close to the HQ. As we go further north, Russ will be closer to home, and he likes the tougher stages that split the field. The stage he won in Ireland at Dingle was, by far, the toughest. He needs people to be suffering, then he hits them!?

Is it a good decision to invite Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla to the Tour of Britain?

?Things have changed: the past is the past, and now you have got to ride clean. I am not bothered by them being there. If things like that are going to start bothering you, you are wasting your time going to the start line?.

Rapha Condor Recycling manager, John Herety:

Are the team in good shape for Sunday?

?Physically we?re ready, we?re in the best condition we can be? although one of the team?s main hopes for GC, Ben Greenwood, is out due to a broken ankle sustained at the Tour of Ireland. In his place will be Rhys Lloyd who will ride ?mainly for the experience,? says John. Time will tell how Chris Newton will fare after the Olympics, ?which are quite draining. Hopefully he?s freshened up (since then). He did the Tour of Ireland to freshen himself up for the Tour of Britain. He may go for the GC, but probably a stage win?.

What aspirations do you have for the race?

?Historically big teams have dominated the race and they dictate when breaks go. When they put the hammer down it decides breaks, so we?ll try to be in the decisive (ones). We?ve no illusions of grandeur though, we?re only a small British continental team so we won?t be taking the race by the scruff of the neck?.

Does any particular stage take your fancy?

The first stage in London will be big for the team ?as we have two London-based sponsors?. The last stage starting in Blackpool will also be important for the sponsors.

Is it a good decision to invite Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla to the Tour of Britain?

?I don?t think it is, it?s a mistake. It?s not a good choice (to invite Rock Racing or LPR), the race can stand alone, it doesn?t need that publicity. But the guys aren?t thinking about that (though)?.

AN Post team manager, Kurt Bogaerts:

Are the team in good shape for Sunday?

?We?re in good shape, we just need to recover (from the Tour of Ireland)?. Unfortunately, Dan Lloyd crashed in the Tour of Ireland, so the team will wait to see how he has recovered from that.

What aspirations do you have for the race?

?It?s an important race for us, with a sponsor of ours based in the UK (Specialized UK). It?s important for us to do well, maybe a stage win or top ten on GC. All our guys are top quality.? Bogaerts rates Benny de Schrooder and Stephen Gallagher as outside chances for the GC because Daniel Fleeman and Dan Lloyd ?will be watched?.

Are there any particular stages you?re targeting?

?No, we?ll take it day by day, that?s how we?ve raced this season. We?ll try and be aggressive and be in the breaks?.

What do you think about Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla being in the race?

?I?m really against doping I can say that. Some things about it are proven, some things aren?t. For the public (watching the race), there?s a lot of work going on to fight doping, so it?s maybe not the best moment (for them to be riding). We as a team do the maximum to fight doping?.

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Tour of Britain official website:

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