Italians Michele Bartoli and Ivan Basso, both currently part of CSC’s 9-strong Tour de France team, are confirmed as taking part in the five-stage Tour though it’s as yet unclear which of the other riders will make up the full team.
CSC joins teams Credit Agricole (France), Panaria-Margres (Italy) The Navigators Insurance Cycling Team (USA), Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf, Lotto-Domo and Mr Bookmaker.com-Palmans (Belgium) on the starting line-up in Manchester for the first stage on September 1st this year. The remainder of the twelve commercially sponsored slots have yet to be confirmed and there will also be four national teams from the UK.
Details of the five stages have been very slightly more fleshed out. Stage one visits the North-West of England starting in Manchester. Stage Two will be based in Yorkshire and then moving down Stage Three will visit cities in the East Midlands. The Fourth Stage takes the riders to South-East Wales and Gwent and then the Tour closes with a criterium on a specially designed circuit through the streets of Westminster.
Refreshingly, the Beeb will be featuring the Tour on their regional networks and in an eighty-minute programme as part of Grandstand. It’s not a huge amount of coverage but it’s a good start.