The Tour of Britain rolls out in Liverpool for the 11th edition of its current incarnation on Sunday, with Britain’s stunning summer of cycling set to draw to a fitting conclusion.
An elite cast will arrive on Merseyside for the race, which will be preceded for the first time by a team presentation in the city on Saturday evening.
Ranked 2.HC by the UCI, and forming a part of the UCI Europe Tour, the race could well be the most memorable yet – and we have not exactly been short-changed when it comes to entertainment over the past ten years either.
Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) heads the list of riders set for the race, as he looks to defend the title he won last year.
Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) is just one of the riders set to rival him for the golden jersey however, with eight UCI WorldTour teams in all taking to the start line – Movistar and Omega Pharma-Quickstep among them.
It is not just the international riders’ arrival to look forward to either, with the British domestic scene having continued to grow in strength this year.
Adam Blythe (NFTO) has already proved the big boys can be beaten at Britain’s most recent UCI Europe Tour event – the RideLondon-Surrey Classic – while British Elite Road Series winner Yanto Barker (Team Raleigh) and former Tour of Britain King of the Mountains winner Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) could also take to the start line.
The route, too, is befitting of the race’s new status on the UCI calendar, with a good mix of stages in the offing.
Last year’s first ever summit finish provided a great stage and a very memorable finish, as Simon Yates jumped clear of an elite group as they approached the summit of Haytor and snatched victory.
This time out The Tumble, in South Wales, will provide a summit finish, while there are a number of other iconic finishes scheduled – Llandudno’s Great Orme among them.
UCI regulations do mean the race has had to reduce the travelling time between stages, thus contributing to no stages in the North East or Scotland, but the stages scheduled are certainly varied enough to provide plenty of excitement.
Haytor features again, en-route from Exmouth to Exeter, while the flatter stages are sure to be exciting affairs too with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) set to go wheel-to-wheel in the sprints.
In all, it could well be the perfect end to a perfect summer of British cycle-sport – the inaugural Women’s Tour, three UCI Europe Tour one-day races in Rutland-Melton, the Beaumont Trophy and RideLondon, two Grand Tour starts, the Commonwealth Games and now the Tour of Britain.
A phenomenally strong field, some intriguing stages and picturesque routes and Britain’s favourite cycling son defending his title – this is definitely one not to miss.