Tour of Britain 2017 preview: seven riders to watch out for

Sprint stars, time trial aces and British heroes on the Edinburgh start line

Mark Cavendish makes his return to racing at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain 2017, which starts on Sunday (September 3) in Edinburgh.

With no summit finish, this year’s race is billed as one for the sprinters and rouleurs while there will also be a ten-mile time trial on Alex Dowsett’s home roads in Essex.

Though it clashes with three WorldTour races, including the Vuelta a Espana, the Tour of Britain can still attract the biggest riders (pic: Sweetspot)

Finishing loops are also a common feature, offering spectators the chance to see the peloton racing through the finale more than once.

 – Tour of Britain 2017 route –

And the race then finishes in Cardiff on September 10, offering a homecoming for fit-again Team Sky man Geraint Thomas and his Welsh team-mate Owain Doull.

So who should you be looking out for in this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain, as the riders battle to win the new green leader’s jersey?

We’ve picked out the riders to watch.

Mark Cavendish/Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)

Defending champion Steve Cummings will not race, having fractured two vertebrae at the Tour de France, but 2015 winner Edvald Boasson Hagen is in action.

And in a race billed as one for the sprinters and rouleurs, he certainly fits the profile to be in contention for this year’s green jersey.

Mark Cavendish is racing for the first time since crashing out of the 2017 Tour de France (Pic: RCS Sport)

All eyes will be on Mark Cavendish, in his first race since crashing out of the Tour de France, but with the Manxman short of race fitness, Boasson Hagen could lead their sprinting charge.

Dimension Data have picked a strong sprinting line-up, with Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel on lead-out duties too, and Yorkshireman Scott Thwaites also in the team.

Tour de France stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen won the Tour of Britain in 2015 (Pic: Sirotti)

British fans will want to see Cavendish winning stages – adding to the record ten stage wins he has in the modern race – but Boasson Hagen’s all-round ability makes him a storng contender for overall siccess.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

Like Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas is racing for the first time since the Tour de France and with a ten-mile time trial and a route that could reward attacking racing, he will hope to arrive in Cardiff with something to shout about.

The Welshman has endured a frustrating year, crashing out of both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, but this is a chance for the 31-year-old to end the year on a high.

Geraint Thomas is also returning to racing for the first time since crashing out of the Tour de France (Pic: Sirotti)

Team Sky have a strong line-up for the race, with fellow Welshman Owain Doull another looking to impress, alongside super-domestique Michal Kwiatkowski.

They also boast one of the most in-form sprinters in the peloton…

Elia Viviani (Team Sky)

Elia Viviani has been in brilliant form of late, ending his time with Team Sky by racking up some notable wins.

Viviani won the Cyclassics Hamburg race, grabbed two stage wins at the Tour du Pointou Charentes and then won the Bretagne Classic-Ouest France.

Elia Viviani is in top form (Pic: Sirotti)

The Italian, 28, won three stages of the 2015 race and with up to six opportunities for a bunch sprint in this year’s race, he will hope for a repeat performance.

Should he win at least one, he would become only the fourth rider to win stages in three or more editions of the modern Tour of Britain.

Chris Lawless (Great Britain)

British under-23 champion Chris Lawless will ride for Team Sky in 2018 after signing his first WorldTour contract, and the 21-year-old has the chance to impress in national colours at the Tour of Britain.

Lawless was a stage winner at the Tour de l’Avenir, and with sprint stages and rolling stages likely, he could be a dark horse for sprinting honours at this year’s race.

Chris Lawless will ride for the national team, having just signed with Team Sky for 2018 (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

The last rider to win a stage of the Tour of Britain while riding for the national team was Simon Yates in 2013, but Lawless has been in good form again this season.

Alex Dowsett (Movistar)

Alex Dowsett has ignited the Tour of Britain plenty of times before, but it will be the stage five time trial he has targeted this time out.

A ten-mile test on his home Essex roads is perfectly suited to the Movistar rider, who could consequently be in line for the green jersey too – especially if he shows the attacking intent he has in previous editions.

Alex Dowsett will battle for time trial supremacy on his home roads (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

In the time trial, his rivals will include world champion Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), who he will ride with next season, Team Sky-bound team-mate Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Thomas, Irish champion Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac), Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) and Marcin Bialoblocki (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) – the latter having broken Dowsett’s ten-mile TT record last season.

With flat stages on the cards, if the breakaways fail to stick in the preceding days, the winner of the time trial could well go on to win overall – though there are likely to be plenty of riders on the attack throughout the week.

Alexander Kristoff (Kautusha-Alpecin)

Katusha-Alpecin are not just bringing the world time trial champion, in Tony Martin, but also the newly-crowned European road race champion Alexander Kristoff.

After a disappointing Tour de France, without a stage win again, Kristoff won on his last race on British soil – the RideLondon-Surrey Classic just a week after the Tour.

Alexander Kristoff won on his last outing on British soil at RideLondon (Pic: Jed Leicester/Silverhub for Prudential RideLondon)

That race heralded an upturn in form for the Norwegian, who went on to claim the European title and win a stage of the Arctic Race of Norway too.

He was fourth at Cyclassics Hamburg and second at the Bretagne Classic-Ouest-France to prove his form and he will be one of the leading sprinters in this year’s race.

Other sprinters looking for stage wins are three men who have enjoyed success on British soil before too – Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), who won a stage at last year’s Tour of Britain, as well as each of the last two Tours de Yorkshire; Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott), another stage winner in last year’s race; and Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors), a Tour of Britain stage winner in 2015.

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