While Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are in Spain aiming to deliver Team Sky another grand tour victory at the Vuelta a España, some of the other biggest names in British cycling will be making an appearance in the 11th edition of the Tour of Britain.
Chief among them will be Britain’s other Tour de France champion, Bradley Wiggins, who will spearhead his Team Wiggins outfit. The sight of Wiggins riding on the road has been a rarity lately.
Before finishing 18th at Paris-Roubaix – his major target of the season – we saw fleeting glimpses of Wiggins in the rainbow jersey, winning the time-trial at the Three Days of de Panne and finishing third at the Tour of Qatar’s time trial, and even less of him in road races.
Since Paris-Roubaix and his subsequent departure from Sky, he’s been yet more elusive, only making fairly anonymous showings at the local races his team are eligible for: the Tour de Yorkshire and RideLondon.
Considering his main goal at the Tour of Britain will be to build his form for the European Track Championships it’s unclear whether he’ll have much of an impact on the race, especially in the absence of a time trial on this year’s route.
One Brit who is likely to take the race by storm however is Mark Cavendish. Prior to his relatively disappointing Tour, where he had to settle for just the one stage win, Cav had been winning relentlessly this season in races like the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the Tours of Turkey and California, and will hope to continue doing so next week in Britain.
To spice things up, his main adversary from the Tour, André Greipel, will also be riding, giving the Manx Missile a chance to gain revenge over the man who beat him to four bunch sprints in France. Last year Marcel Kittel edged Cav out of two sprint wins in what was a similar head-to-contest, so the Briton will have to be on top of his game to pull one of this year.
There won’t be too many opportunities for the two to go for sprint wins, however, as the route is full of difficult parcours likely to be too selective for them. Although the opening Welsh stage looks like a straightforward sprinters’ stage, after that things get complicated.
Stage two from Clitheroe to Colne consists of constantly up and down undulating terrain, and has been described by race director Mike Bennett as comparable to an ‘Ardennes Classic’. There are also a few hills en route to a finish at Floors Castle on stage three, although the balance is weighted more towards sprinters, while the largely flat run-in to Blyth the day after should suit the sprinters yet more.
With a finish atop the category one Hartside Pass, stage five looks like the obvious candidate for the race’s most decisive day. But whereas the tactics for this stage will be fairly straightforward (specifically, to hold back until the final climb to battle it out), the undulating route of stage six will make things very difficult to control for whoever is in the leader’s jersey after the Hartside Pass stage, and could see ambushes far out from the finish.
Things settle down after that, with a flattish parcours on stage seven unlikely to cause any serious time gaps, and the usual circuit stage in London the following day expected to be more of a procession for whoever’s already in the lead than one last showdown between the favourites.
Tour of Britain 2015: Stages
Stage 1, Sunday, September 6, Beaumaris to Wrexham, 178km
Stage 2, Monday, September 7, Clitheroe to Colne, 227km
Stage 3, Tuesday, September 8, Cockermouth to Floors Castle, 216km
Stage 4, Wednesday, September 9, Edinburgh to Blyth, 217km
Stage 5, Thursday, September 10, Prudhoe to Hartside, 166km
Stage 6, Friday, September 11, Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, 193km
Stage 7, Saturday, September 12, Fakenham to Ipswich, 227km
Stage 8, Sunday, September 13, London, 87km
Tour of Britain 2015: Teams
BMC Racing (USA)
Etixx Quick-Step (Belgium)
IAM Cycling (Switzerland)
Lotto Soudal (Belgium)
Movistar Team (Spain)
Team Cannondale – Garmin (USA)
Team Lotto NL Jumbo (Netherlands)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Tinkoff – Saxo (Russia)
Cult Energy Pro Cycling (Denmark)
MTN Qhubeka (South Africa)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
An Post Chain Reaction (Ireland)
JLT Condor presented by Mavic (Great Britain)
Madison Genesis (Great Britain)
NFTO (Great Britain)
ONE Pro Cycling (Great Britain)
Team Raleigh GAC (Great Britain)
Team WIGGINS (Great Britain)
Great Britain Cycling Team
Tour of Britain 2015: TV Guide
ITV and British Eurosport will be broadcasting live coverage of the race
Tour of Britain: Recent winners
2014: Dylan van Baarle
2013: Bradley Wiggins
2012: Nathan Haas
2011: Lars Boom
2010: Michael Albasini
2009: Edvald Boasson Hagen
2008: Geoffroy Lequatre
2007: Romain Feillu
2006: Martin Pedersen
2005: Nick Nuyens
Tour of Britain: Last year’s top ten (2014)
1. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp in 32-22-50
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 10 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 22 secs
4. Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani at 37 secs
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo at 42 secs
6. Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 46 secs
7. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 59 secs
8. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar at 54 secs
9. Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 1-09
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing at 1-10