Tour of Britain 2016 preview: route, contenders and riders to watch

Where will the 13th edition of the Tour of Britain be won, and who could win it?

The 13th Tour of Britain will see Olympic track champions and some of the leading names in the WorldTour peloton go head-to-head on the roads of Scotland, England and Wales.

Starting in Glasgow on Sunday (September 4), the eight-day race heads through the Lake District, Wales and the South West – including a hill-top finish on Haytor – before finishing in London on Sunday September 11.

Defending champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) is not taking part, but Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Wiggins) and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), winners in 2013 and 2014 respectively, will start.

Edvald Boasson Hagen celebrates victory in last year’s Tour of Britain (pic: The Tour)

Sprinting stars such as Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani, both fresh from their Olympic omnium success and Andre Greipel will also be on the Glasgow startline.

And the best of British talent – including the national road race champion, Adam Blythe (Great Britain), and national time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) also join the star-studded field.

– Tour of Britain 2016: TV schedule –

So what can we expect from this year’s race, where will the race be won, and who is going to win it? Let’s take a closer look.


A varied route could produce a typically open Tour of Britain for the modern race’s 13th edition, with summit finishes, big climbs, long stages and a split time trial and circuit race stage in Bristol all to contend with.

The peloton start north of the border in Scotland, and will race from Glasgow to Dumfries’ Castle Douglas on stage one, while stage two could see splits open up very early on with Whinlatter Pass and The Struggle offering platforms for attacks in the Lake District.

The 2016 Tour of Britain starts in Glasgow, which hosts a stage for the first time since 2008 (pic: Sweetspot)

Another big climb – the 10km Cat and Fiddle – features on stage three, and what it lacks in gradient it makes up for with heavy roads as the peloton races from Congleton to Tatton Park.

Stage four heads south through Wales from Denbigh to Builth Wells, which at 217km is the longest of the race.

Stage five rolls out of Aberdare and crosses back into England, to Bath via the Forest of Dean, while stage six could prove pivotal overall.

Simon Yates won on the summit finish of Haytor in 2013, and there will be countless riders bidding to replicate his success on the tough Dartmoor climb.

A host of leading time triallists have been tempted to take on the race too, and if they can limit their losses on Haytor, the 15km individual time trial in Bristol will be their chance to claim the leader’s jersey.

A summit finish on Haytor and a split stage in Bristol await when the race heads to the South West (pic: SweetSpot)

It’s not long enough to cause major time splits, but it should still shake up the general classification before a five-lap circuit race in the afternoon.

The race then concludes in the capital, as ever, with the final stage centred on Regent Street and the Northbank a la 2015.


Alex Dowsett (Movistar)

After an injury-hit campaign cost him a place at the Giro d’Italia, where he was fancied to win the stage nine individual time trial, Alex Dowsett has targeted the Tour of Britain.

The Movistar man wore the leader’s jersey in 2014, but paid for his efforts in claiming the race lead when he lost it again the following day.

Alex Dowsett wore the yellow jersey in 2014. The Movistar rider is targetting victory in 2016 (Pic: Alex Broadway/

This time, however, with just one hilltop finish and the 15km individual time trial to follow, the British time trial champion believes he can make up any time lost on Haytor when he races against the clock.

Dowsett faces stiff competition, not just for the overall win but for the time trial stage, but after sitting in a hospital bed with ‘Grand Tour form in my legs’ ahead of the Giro, the Essex man has some scores to settle.

Tony Martin/Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep)

Etixx-QuickStep have a strong line-up for the Tour of Britain, with plenty of options for the overall win within their six-strong team.

Dan Martin was in top form at the Tour de France, claiming ninth place overall, and certainly has the credentials to win on Britain’s heavy roads.

Dan Martin and Tony Martin lead a strong Etixx-QuickStep line-up (pic: Sirotti)

But he lost nearly a minute to race leader Bradley Wiggins on the Haytor summit finish in 2013 and will need to avoid a repeat performance this time out.

Namesake Tony, meanwhile, can press home his advantage in the time trial and is also not a man the peloton will want setting the pace in a break.

Etixx-QuickStep’s options aren’t limited to the Martins either, with stagiaire Adrien Costa – the latest big talent blossoming with Axel Merckx’s Axeon team in America – racing on the back of third place at the Tour de l’Avenir and second overall at the Tour of Utah.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)

Fresh from his Olympic time trial silver medallist – won just 19 days after he crashed out of the Tour de France with a broken wrist – Tom Dumoulin is a serious contender for the Tour of Britain.

Now established as one of the world’s leading time triallists, Dumoulin bagged two stage wins at the Tour – one against the clock, and one on the Queen Stage – and stands a big chance if his fitness has returned post-Tour and post-Rio.

Tom Dumoulin will be among the riders to watch in the time trial, and shouldn’t lose much time on Haytor either if he is fully recovered from his broken wrist (pic: Sirotti)

He should not lose much time, if any, on Haytor and he will certainly gain some the following day too to make him one of the riders to watch.

The Dutchman is fast establishing himself as a solid contender not just against the clock but on all terrain, and a victory at the Tour of Britain would go some way to adding to that.

Wout Poels (Team Sky)

While defending champion Edvald Boasson Hagen will not be taking part, last year’s second-place finisher and stage winner Wout Poels will.

Team Sky won four stages at last year’s race, with Elia Viviani netting a hat-trick of sprint victories alongside Poels’ win and the Dutchman finished just 13 seconds off top spot overall.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Wout Poels was second at last year’s Tour of Britain (pic: Sirotti)

He struggled for form in the Olympic road race in Rio, paying for his efforts supporting Chris Froome to victory in the Tour de France but the 28-year-old has had nearly a month since then to recharge.

Team-mate Nicolas Roche – Irish road and time trial champion – could be another rider to watch, before he leaves Sky for BMC Racing, and you can guarantee Team Sky will be keen to have a say of some sort in their ‘home’ race.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing)

Rohan Dennis can time trial, but there is more one string to his bow and he has his fair share of stage racing success to his name.

An ill-time mechanical proved fatal for his hopes of winning an Olympic medal at Rio 2016, having set the early pace on the course, and the Tour of Britain will be the Australian’s first race since.

Rohan Dennis has pedigree when it comes to the shorter stage races, with victories in Australia and America on his palmares (pic: Sirotti)

A winner of the Santos Tour Down Under and USA Pro Challenge in 2015, before finishing second at this year’s Amgen Tour of California, the 26-year-old is capable of big things.

Like most of the time trial specialists, Dennis will be keen not to cede any time on Haytor – but he managed exactly that on Willunga Hill at last year’s Tour Down Under; in fact, he finished second to reiterate the fact he’s more than a time triallist.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)

The Tour of Britain catapulted Simon Yates into the national consciousness three years ago, and Tao Geoghegan Hart is capable of earning the national team more success on Haytor this time out.

The Team Sky-bound 21-year-old was 15th in 2014 and 21st last time out, but he will lead the British national team for the third consecutive year on the back of a sixth place finish at the Tour de l’Avenir.

Tao Geoghegan Hart leads the British national team. The Londoner joins Team Sky next season (pic: Simon Wilkinson/

Geoghegan Hart has seen Axeon team-mate Adrien Costa steal his limelight somewhat this season, but a string of impressive GC results have added to the Londoner’s rising stock once again.

He is unlikely to have such a free role at Team Sky, at least in his first couple of years, so this is a big opportunity to prove his worth before the next big step in his career.

Soon-to-be Team Sky team-mate Owain Doull flew the flag for young British riders when he finished third last year but with Team Wiggins rider Doull racing on the back of his Rio 2016 exploits, this could be Geoghegan Hart’s turn instead.

Steve Cummings (Dimension Data)

Steve Cummings is one of two Brits in the Dimension Data line-up, the other being Mark Cavendish, and he could be a contender overall.

Cummings’ exploits this season, winning four stages at WorldTour races, including one at the Tour de France, have furthered his popularity among the British public.

Steve Cummings could be an overall contender, or he may keep his powder dry as he targets stage wins (pic: Sirotti)

But whether he can be a contender overall will depend how he races – if he’s targeting stage wins, you can expect to see him riding at the back of the bunch and losing time on the earlier stages.

If he doesn’t, however, Dimension Data could be looking at a second consecutive Tour of Britain win – Cummings can time trial, he can climb and he can eke out seconds if he attacks the bunch too.

Other riders to watch

Alongside the GC men and time trial specialists, a host of leading sprinters have also been tempted out to play – led by 30-time Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish.

The Brit will resume hostilities with Lotto-Soudal’s Andre Greipel, and it will be interesting to see if he can recapture his form post-Rio with the World Championships on the horizon.

Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani will resume their sprinting rivalry. Olympic omnium champion Viviani won the bragging rights last year with three stage wins (Pic: The Tour)

The man who beat him to omnium gold in Rio, Italian Team Sky man Elia Viviani, is also among the sprinting contenders having won three times in last year’s race.

Sky have enlisted Britain’s Ben Swift and the Netherlands’ Danny van Poppel to form a strong sprinting arsenal for the race.

British interests in the bunch gallops are not limited to Cavendish or Swift either – British champion Adam Blythe will race for the national team alongside Dan McLay, who impressed on his Tour de France debut.

Fellow young sprinters Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) will also be involved, so it’s a chance to see how three of the peloton’s brightest sprinting talents match up.

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