The Tour of Britain starts in Liverpool on Sunday (September 7), which means time is running out to enter a team in our Fantasy Tour of Britain game.
With £500 of Dare 2b kit up for grabs for the winner, and the chance to win VIP tickets to the final stage of this year’s race just by entering, there’s never beena better time to prove your credentials as thee next Sir Dave Brailsford by entering a team before the 10am deadline on Sunday.
But who should you pick to lead you to success?
Read our tips and form guide below for some ideas.
Picking your team
Unlike the teams heading for Liverpool, who are limited to six riders each, we are allowing you to pick a squad of nine to lead your team to glory.
So there is no excuse for selection headaches such as those faced by John Wood, the NFTO boss who omitted Russell Downing from his final line-up, or Omega Pharma-Quickstep DS Brian Holm who has just one of Mark Cavendish’s lead-out men at the Manxman’s disposal.
You also need to pick a bonus team and a bonus stage – your team will not start scoring points until you have selected and saved nine riders, a team and a stage.
Your bonus stage allows you to score double points, but can not be changed once it is selected.
With stages rated category one or two, it is a sensible move to pick from the former (worth 50 per cent more points) – but be warned, the unpredictable nature of those stages, where the race might be won, could count against you.
Another advantage RCUK Fantasy ToB players have over the likes of Wood and Holm is the ability to transfer riders in and out – so use them wisely!
Use your transfers
The first stage, a flat circuit around Liverpool, will not be won by a climber or a GC man, so look instead to Cavendish (€9.5m) or Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel (€9.5m), who are set for a sprinting showdown.
Cavendish won two stages at the Tour Poitou Chanderes to prove his fitness and form, while Kittel returns to Britain having already collected three victories on these shores this year.
If you are feeling the pinch with the €65m budget you have at your disposal, there are a host of cheaper options available too such as Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF, €3.5m).
With a circuitous route, the British riders should also be considered, with Adam Blythe (NFTO, €4.5m) having already proved himself capable of foiling the big-name WorldTour men with victory at RideLondon.
The transfers at your disposal also reset after every three stages – so there is no harm in packing your team with sprinters for stage one and then transferring them out.
Stage two could also end in a sprint, if the fast men get up the Great Orme, but the stage could also favour a late attack – with Scott Thwaites (Team NetApp-Endura, €3.5m) having already admitted a few of the short climbs have caught his interest.
Former champion Lars Boom (Belkin, €4.0m) is another to look out for.
If not, a sprinter such as Ben Swift (Team Sky, €5.5m) could be one to look out for – having proved he can get over such inclines with his stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country and podium place at Milan-San Remo.
Stage three, however, is one reserved for the climbers with a summit finish atop The Tumble.
One of the ‘category one’ stages, worth 50 per cent more points, it is a stage to score highly on and there are plenty of climbers to choose from.
Defending champion Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky, €9.5m) seems an obvious pick, while team-mate David Lopez (€7.5m) impressed on Haytor, last year’s summit finish.
Leopold Koenig (Team NetApp-Endura, €6.5m), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo, €7.5m) and Tour of Poland runner-up Ion Izaguirre (Movistar, €4.0m) are also men to look out for.
Good use of transfers should give you plenty of opportunity to pack your team with points scorers on every stage.
Although worth less than the stage win, it is also worth keeping an eye on the men bidding for the points and King of the Mountains jerseys.
When a rider takes over one of the jersey it is worth 15 points, and five for every stage then on which they defend it.
Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT, €3.5m) is no stranger to the Skoda King of the Mountains jersey having won it outright in 2012, and he wore it during last year’s race too – with his penchant for the breakaway coming to the fore.
Steve Lampier (Velosure-Giordana, €4.0m) has been a breakaway regular on the domestic scene this year too, in the biggest races, and will be keen to give his team plenty of exposure.
Javier Megias (Team Novo Nordisk) is another breakaway regular, having clocked the miles alongside none other than Jens Voigt at the USA Pro Challenge, while Alex Dowsett (Movistar, €5.0m) may look to impress in front of his home fans.
Think you know best?
All teams are entered into the overall league, but you can also set up or join mini-leagues to compete with your nearest and dearest, or prove your superiority in the office against your work colleagues.
All of the mini leagues will also be ranked, to see how you and your mates compare with the other leagues set-up.
Still not entered a team? Head to http://fantasycycling.roadcyclinguk.com.