The 2016 Tour of Britain boasts a start list comprising Grand Tour stars, top-level sprinters, the best homegrown racers and no less than eight Rio Olympic gold medallists.
The eight-day race features seven flatter stages, one climbing stage and a short individual time trial so will suit the talents of an all-rounder.
Last year’s winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) is absent, but last year’s runner-up Wout Poels (Sky) and former winners Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Wiggins), will be there. The latter is unlikely to challenge for the overall as he heads towards retirement.
Here we rate the chances of the leading riders in the race, which starts in Glasgow on Sunday, September 4.
Wout Poels, Sky
Having assisted Chris Froome so impressively at the Tour in July, Wout Poels will have a rare chance to ride for himself on GC at the Tour of Britain.
Team Sky tend to go well in their home stage race, but have only won the overall once in 2013 through Bradley Wiggins. If Poels, who was second last year, is anywhere near his top form, he’s capable of repeating that success.
Dan Martin, Etixx-QuickStep
Having spent the past month recovering from his efforts at the Tour de France and the Olympics, we could see a fresh, rejuvenated Dan Martin at the Tour of Britain.
The Irishman has stated his desire to land a first-ever stage win at the Tour of Britain, and he should also be capable of competing for the top spot on GC. He’s certainly one of the best climbers on the roster, and is well suited to the undulating terrain of the race’s key stages, although the 15km time-trial in Bristol will be a concern.
Tom Dumoulin, Giant-Alpecin
One rider who will be looking forward to the race’s time trial will be Tom Dumoulin. Having won stages against the clock both at the Giro and the Vuelta this season – not to mention his silver medal at the Olympics – the Dutchman will be firm favourite for stage 7a.
If can also limit his losses on the race’s many steep hills, he might also be capable of moving into the overall lead with a strong ride in the time trial.
Steve Cummings, Dimension Data
35-year old Cummings has been in the form of his life this season, winning stages at the Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country, Criterium du Dauphine and, most memorably, in the Pyrenees at the Tour de France,
A stage win at the Tour of Britain is therefore clearly on the cards, but, if he puts his mind to it, a high finish in the GC is also within his grasp.
Rohan Dennis, BMC
Like Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis will be hoping to stay in contention in the first part of the race, then gain time in the time trial.
Though the Australian hasn’t put in any performances this season that quite match his record breakingly-fast opening time trial at last year’s Tour, if he can put in a ride similar to this second overall at the Tour of California this spring, he’ll be a contender.
Owain Doull, Team Wiggins
Having sealed Olympic gold in Rio at the team pursuit last month, young Welshman Owain Doull returns to the road in the race where he made his breakthrough last year by finishing third overall.
All that preparation for the track might hinder his form, but he’ll have the advantage of flying under the radar, with most media attention surrounding his team likely to focus on team pursuit companion Bradley Wiggins, in what will be one of his last ever races.
Dylan van Baarle, Cannondale-Drapac
As an ex-winner from 2014 – when he defended the overall lead having made it into the definitive three-man break on stage seven – van Baarle cannot be discounted from repeating that success.
His most eye-catching result this season was sixth at the Tour of Flanders, a result that was also indicative of the 24-year-old’s growing status as a classics rider, but he retains the attributes necessary to staying high up the GC in a race like the Tour of Britain.
Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
Before the GC race gets going there are a number of stages likely to come down to bunch sprints, and some of the best sprinters in the world will be present, fine-tuning their preparations for the flat World Championships in Qatar next month.
Mark Cavendish will be competing in his first road race since taking four stage wins at the Tour, and will be up against old rival André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), new upstart Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) and Elia Viviani (Sky), the man who denied him Olympic gold in the omnium last month.