Ian Bibby could race for a position on the podium at the Tour of Britian , Madison-Genesis team manager, Roger Hammond, has told RoadCyclingUK.
The Lancastrian, who was fourth overall when he crashed out of the 2011 Tour of Britain, was the strongest rider in the race until the accident, Hammond believes.
And Bibby, who has been preparing under the guidance of Hammond’s former Cervelo and Garmin-Sharp team-mate, Daniel Lloyd, has been posting numbers in training that Hammond believes could make him a contender again.
“I signed him because I believe he’s a competitive rider in the Tour of Britain,” Hammond told RCUK. “I still believe, even with the time trial, he could ride in the first three at the Tour of Britain.
“What I saw him do when he was in Node4 and crashed with Geraint Thomas – he was by far the strongest rider in the race.”
Hammond stressed that form would not be enough for Bibby, adding that strong support from team-mates including Liam Holohan and Andy Tennant, as well as an element of luck, would be required for a podium finish.
“I signed him because I believe he’s a competitive rider in the Tour of Britain. I still believe, even with the time trial, he could ride in the first three at the Tour of Britain
The start list includes many of the stars of cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour, including Team Sky’s Sir Bradley Wiggins, former world road race champion, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and Tour de France runner-up, Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
The course has been billed as the most challenging yet, and while Hammond said parcours that are too tough can sometimes neutralize a race, he believes the tenth edition of the modern Tour of Britain will be selective – an outcome he believes could favour riders like Bibby and Holohan. “The last thing we want is bunch finishes and everything decided on a 16km time trial,” Hammond said.
All six British UCI Continental teams have been selected by race organisers, SweetSpot, for this year’s tenth edition of the modern Tour of Britain. For Hammond, the race has become an advert for the standard of racing – and riders – in Britain. All of his charges are ambitious enough to want to move up through the ranks, he believes, and all should be sufficiently motivated to seize the opportunity of performing in an international race.
The prize for all British riders who will roll out in Peebles on Sunday will be public appreciation, says Hammond – a rider from a generation who can remember when this was not always so.
“As a bike rider, I liked the fact that I was doing something that other people appreciated, Hammond said. “In my day, unfortunately, that meant going to Belgium.
“The Tour of Britain is an advert for racing on the UK scene now. It’s big enough and there’s so much interest. You’re doing a job that’s appreciated by a lot of people.
“From a rider’s point of view, there’s nothing better really – a big international race, a lot of people following it.”
The 2013 Tour of Britain starts this Sunday in Peebles. Check back daily for our reports of each stage.