Irishman Dan Martin will lead the Belgian WorldTour squad in the eight-day race, with an eye on the general classification. In particular, Martin will focus on stage six to Haytor with its uphill finale. It’s the first time that the 30-year-old had taken part in the race since 2013, when he finished 13th overall.
Ninth place overall at the Tour de France in July, third place in the Critérium du Dauphiné and stage wins at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Volta a Catalunya show that Martin has been in good form this season so far, though he says he felt the affects of the season at the Rio Olympics.
“Doing the Tour de France and the Olympic Games was very tiring, physically and mentally,” said Martin. “After the road race, I stayed in Rio to recover and follow my girlfriend, who was competing at the Olympics.
“It was nice, I cleaned up my mind and once I returned home I started building up for the last part of the season. Even though I don’t know what to expect from this race, I am keen on honouring it with a win, especially as in the past I came close to a victory, but missed out on one. The team is strong, so let’s see what we’re going to do.”
Martin will face strong opposition in the race, with prospective overall contenders including Wout Poels (Team Sky), Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
German time trial specialist Tony Martin will provide firepower in support of Dan Martin, as well as being one of the leading contenders for the stage 7a individual time trial in Bristol.
Accompanying the two (unrelated) Martins will be American stagiaire Adrien Costa, who has been putting in impressive performances throughout the season for development team Axeon–Hagens Berman. The 19-year-old makes his race debut with the team in the event.
“I am super excited to do the Tour of Britain with Etixx-QuickStep; it’s been a dream since I was a kid to race in the pro peloton beside all these legends of the sport. I’m looking forward to a fun, hard week of racing, and I hope to learn as much as I can and give maximum contribution to the team’s efforts throughout the race.”
Frenchman Julien Vermote, Argentinian Maximiliano Richeze and Pole Lukasz Wisniowski complete the strong line-up, which will be seeking to add to the team’s historic tally of 18 Tour of Britain stage wins.
As well as a prestigious event in its own right, the Tour of Britain has become a key form tester ahead of the annual UCI Road Cycling World Championships, which this year takes place in Doha, Qatar, over October 9-16.
The 2016 Tour of Britain starts in Glasgow on Sunday, September 4, and concludes in London on Sunday, September 11.