Winner in Glasgow last year, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), with the support of team-mate Andrew Fenn, will defend his jersey this time out as he competes for the right to wear it on the Tour de France start line in Leeds. The Manx Missile was in great form 12 months ago, racing on the back of his Giro d’Italia red jersey success. He dealt comfortably with the punchy Glasgow course before out-sprinting Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) to take the win.
However, while the fierce ascent of the Tumble does not feature on this year’s route – unlike five years ago – the undulating course could well suit a breakaway rider, rather than a sprint finish. If Cavendish makes the winning split, he will be favourite for the win. But with a strong Team Sky unit set for the start line – as there was in 2011 – he will have to be on his guard. If Sky repeat their successful tactic from that year of riding hard on the climbs to split the race up before competing for the stage themselves, the Manxman will have a difficult job on his hands to stay in contention.