The Tour of Britain starts this Sunday in Peebles in Scotland. 8 stages later it comes to an end in London having snuck its nose into most parts of the UK. It may not be at the top of your list of races to look forward to but here are a few reasons to pay attention:
- They're getting more and more series with the race. When it was resurrected in 2004 and the first few years afterwards the courses were flat and victory went to however got in the lucky break the peloton couldn't be bothered to chase. Now teams are taking it more seriously and the route has stepped up. This year there's some strong riders coming, there's a time trial and it even visits what pass for mountains in this country.
- Six man teams. No-one can control the race which should make it more exciting.
- It's going to be live on TV so you might actually be able to find some video
So what's the course like? Well it breaks down like this:
- Four routine road stages. While none are pan flat, none really have much to trouble the pros unless the weather's awful (see below) or they really rise to the occasion. The stage through the Lake District (#2) should be pretty and will allow you to admire the missed opportunity to put a summit finish on Honister Pass.
- Stage 3 is a 16km individual time trial. Pretty flat and untechnical so expect Wiggins to win. It starts and finishes and Knowsley safari park. Sadly they aren't taking it through the monkey enclosure.
- One lumpy finish. Stage 5 finishes with a two climbs of Caerphilly Mountain. It's not really a mountain but it is steep and enough to get a gap. An opportunity for someone to get time back on Wiggins
- One summit finish. More Cauberg than Alpe d'Huez, the climb to Haytor on stage 6 is about 4.5km at 6.4% according to Strava with ramps above 10%. But again as much of a GC shake-up opportunity as you're going to get.
- To finish a crit stage in London round St James park and taking in lots of famous sights (Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey) and a nice backdrop for awarding the final jerseys etc.
The one thing which could mix all of this up is the weather. Looking at the weather cold, wet and windy days look a distinct possibility particularly for the first few stages. And the race is generally hugging the wetter west side of the country.
The field runs the full gamut of Pro Tour, Pro Conti and Continental teams. Highlights include:
- Sky are bringing a strong team to their home race with Wiggins, Eisel, Stannard and Hayman. I assume they'll be gunning for a Wiggins home victory secured in the timetrial. They're not though bringing Jonathan Tiernan-Locke last year's winner.
- OPQS will send Cavendish and a few likely leadout riders (Petacchi, Keisse, Velits)
- Rapha-Condor-Sharp will look to enliven things. Expect Kristian House and the other men in black on the attack. Will be interesting to see how Felix English copes - a man who famously beat Chris Hoy in a track sprint.
- IAM cycling will be hoping Löfkvist and Haussler show signs of life
- Quintana will be coming with Movistar. He must have done something wrong since the tour to have been sent. They also bring Dowsett who might rival Wiggins in the ITT.
- MTN-Qhubeka have Ciolek
- Cannondale are bringing the wrong Sagan. And Elia Viviani (has someone told Albertina)
- Dan Martin and Jack Bauer head up Garmin-Sharp
So not an amazing field but to me that could make fun racing, particularly as lots of the small domestic teams will be keen to make their mark agains the big boys so could be fun.
As to video here's it'll be on ITV and Eurosport at the following times:
|Stage One||British Eurosport||Sun 15 Sep 14:00-16:00|
|Mon 16 Sep 13:30-16:00
Mon 16 Sep 13:30-16:00
|Tue 17 Sep 12:15-14:15
Tue 17 Sep 12:15-14:15
|Wed 18 Sep 14:00-16:00
Wed 18 Sep 14:00-16:00
|Thu 19 Sep 14:00-16:00
Thu 19 Sep 14:00-16:00
|Fri 20 Sep 13:00-15:00
Fri 20 Sep 13:00-15:00
|Sat 21 Sep 14:00-16:00
Sat 21 Sep 14:00-16:00
|Sun 22 Sep 16:00-18:00
Sun 22 Sep 16:00-18:00