Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) will defend his Tour of Britain title this year, instead of riding the Vuelta a España, according to team principal Sir Dave Brailsford.
Wiggins – who returned to road racing action at the RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday, having returned to the track to win a silver medal in the men’s team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games – won last year’s national tour to enter the world time trial championships on a high.
And the presence of the 2012 Tour de France champion at this year’s race will give a significant boost to the last major event on the domestic calendar in what has been another sensational year for cycling in the UK.
Support for Wiggins remains as high as it did two years ago, as the crowds at RideLondon proved on Sunday. Fans lined the routes with flags, banners and home-made signs cheering Wiggo on – with the Team Sky man, wearing dossard number one, hitting the front of the bunch early in the race to give the crowds a good show.
His chief target for the end of the year will be the world time trial championships, where the British time trial champion will hope to better three-time and reigning world champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), to whom he finished second last year.
But his presence at the Tour of Britain, which rolls out of Liverpool on Sunday September 7, will give him the opportunity to star in front of his home fans before departing for Ponfederria.
And if he repeats the scintillating form he showed 12 months previously, it will be the perfect end to a special year for British cycle sport.
Two Grand Tour starts – the Giro d’Italia in Belfast and the Tour de France in Yorkshire – the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and an all-star cast for RideLondon have all ensured plenty of elite cycling action to enjoy.
Wiggins at the Tour of Britain, one of the biggest crowd-pullers in the sport, will surely make for a great atmosphere at each of the eight stages of this year’s 11th edition of the modern Tour of Britain.
Belfast set the tone for a great year with a superb send-off for the Giro d’Italia, the city turning pink for the occasion and the Northern Irish public defying the rain and wind to offer great support along the route.
Yorkshire surpassed it, however, with the turn-out for the Tour de France Grand Depart unprecedented as millions packed the roadsides from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield.
London, meanwhile, has enjoyed pro cycling’s elite twice – first for stage three of the Tour de France and then for RideLondon.
And it is not just in terms of crowd numbers and high-profile events where British cycling has enjoyed another phenomenal year.
Success may not measure up to last year – Brits had won the Giro d’Italia red jersey and Tour de France yellow jersey this time 12 months ago – but there has still been plenty of it to enjoy.
From Wiggins conquering California to continued WorldTour success for Mark Cavendish, not to mention the astonishing debuts in cycling’s top-tier of the Yates twins, there has been plenty to enjoy.
In short, if 2012 was the awakening of cycling in the conscience of the wider public, and 2013 continued its inexorable rise, this year has been the year in which Britain has proved itself to be a cycling nation.
And what better way for it to end than with the country’s most famous cyclist, defending his gold jersey on home roads, en route from Liverpool to London?