By Gerry McManus
Sixteen teams of six riders make up the 96 starters on the roster sheet for the Tour of Britain starting in Glasgow, Scotland on Tuesday August 29. The third running of the event looks likely to be the most spectacular ever with the final stage into London billed as the rehearsal for when the Tour de France visits the UK next year.
This year’s event has attracted the current world champion Tom Boonen who leads the Quick Step – Innergetic team over 860-miles culminating in a Champs-Elysees style finish in The Mall in England’s capital city on Sunday September 3rd.
Boonen will start as the favourite lying in second place in the current UCI ranking and he has already raced in Britain winning the stage into Nottingham in 2004. The Quick Step- Innergetic team has a wealth of talent including Nick Nuyens and 24-year-old Italian hope Filippo Pozzato.
Andreas Klöden is in action for his T-Mobile team. Klöden has finished on the Tour de France podium twice in the last three editions of the race. The 31-year-old German had been criticised in the past for not performing well in other events but he answered his critics with a recent win in the Regio Tour in Germany. Klöden has already secured his place with Team Astana for next year and may let Australian triple world time-trial champion Michael Rogers take the lead role. Britain’s Mark Cavendish returns to the UK as a stagiaire with T-Mobile and has a stage win on his shopping list.
Discovery Channel professional and former British champion Roger Hammond will be hoping for another stage win to add to his victory in Blackpool last year. Hammond guest rides for the GB team and has yet to reveal his plans for next year but is definitely leaving the US team. Hammond will hold the helm for a young team who will gain valuable experience riding against the top professionals. A good performance from Gerraint Thomas will certainly help to speed up his journey towards a certain destination of the pro ranks.
Phonak iShares ride with the knowledge of their team’s demise at the end of the year and their riders may be looking for individual results to boost their search for contracts for next year. CSC and Davitamon-Lotto complete the Pro Tour teams entered.
DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed and Recycling.co.uk are the two established top British teams and ride head to head on home soil. Eric Vanderaerden takes up his new role as Director Sportif of the DFL team and the former winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix will certainly inspire the fledgling team. Russell Downing rides full of confidence following his win in the Druivenkoers Overijse race in Belgium last week.
Recycling’s Dale Appley was the rider to miss out in the team selection for the team made by manager John Herety. The team that dominated the British Cycling Premier Series will find it a little more difficult against the bigger continental outfits but will find the experience of Chris Newton invaluable.