1. Most of the world’s best sprinters are here
The Vuelta a España’s loss is definitely the Tour of Britain‘s gain. With a pan flat World Championships road race in Qatar this year the sprinters are favouring the Tour of Britain’s roads over the mountainous route put forward in Spain.
It’s only really Marcel Kittel and Fernando Gaviria who are missing, both of whom ride for Etixx-Quick Step, as well as John Degenkolb. But there’s also Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) here, Wouter Wippert (Cannondale-Drapac), JJ Lobato (Movistar) and national champion Adam Blythe to add to the mix.
With the vast majority of the eight stages featuring flat finishes we’re likely to see some great battles between the fast men as they hone their fitness for the Worlds later in the year.
2. There’s some great British talent on show
We’ve got Cavendish and Blythe, as already mentioned, but the list of Brits turning out for their home race is great.
Sir Bradley Wiggins may be taking part in his final stage race, with fellow Olympic champion and new Team Sky signing Owain Doull also in his Wiggins team.
National time trial champion Alex Dowsett is in the squad for Movistar and will look to fare well in the time trial in Bristol on the penultimate day.
Tour de France stage winner Steve Cummings joins Cavendish in the Dimension Data squad, with Ian Stannard and Ben Swift part of a strong Sky team.
Tao Geoghegan Hart and Dan McLay will turn out for the national team with Blythe and Mark McNally is heading up the Wanty-Groupe Gobert squad.
3. The time trial will be hard fought
The line-up of sprinters is good, but the time triallists on show at the Tour of Britain could be even better. With the Vuelta not really offering much to the riders targetting the time trial at the World Championships, they’ve all come to Britain to take advantage of our great roads.
The only time trial on the eight-stage route is only 15km long, but it will be an absolute bun fight between the big names for the win. After all, it could help decide the race winner, with only flat stages left before the end of the race.
Dowsett (Movistar) is somewhat of an expert over this kind of distance, holding the national 10mi record, and Rohan Dennis (BMC) is pretty handy over the short distances.
Then there’s Wiggo, Cummings, Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac), Taylor Phinney (BMC), Jon Dibben (Wiggins)…the list just goes on.
4. The roads will be packed with fans
Whatever the weather, you can guarantee that British cycling fans will be out on the roadsides in their thousands on every day of the race.
Unlike countries like France and Belgium, we don’t get much top-class cycling passing through our country, so people will take days off work, schools will take their kids to the roadside and plenty of tourists will flock to places they’ve never heard off just to watch the peloton pass.
We’ve seen that races like the Tour de Yorkshire can attract tens of thousands of fans over a weekend, but the Tour of Britain can attract those numbers all week and the atmosphere is brilliant.
5. The British Continental teams are looking strong
The domestic season may be coming to an end in Britain, but the best riders will be on show at the Tour of Britain. The great thing about these domestic teams is that the riders are used to racing in British conditions on a variety of courses.
Teams like Madison-Genesis, JLT Condor and Team Wiggins don’t just ride in domestic races either, with trips to the Tour of Korea, Tour of California and the Tour Alsace giving riders young and old great experience of stage racing.
Expect to see many of the domestic riders trying to get out in the breakaway, partly to gain a bit of exposure for their team, but also to gain sprint and KOM points along the route to get into one of the coveted jerseys.
The likes of Tom Stewart and Ian Bibby have had solid seasons, winning Velothon Wales and the Manx International GP respectively, while the ever-reliable Russ Downing is set to start his ninth Tour of Britain.