Kennaugh's form a complete unknown heading into Tour of Britain

Manxman returns to racing after disrupted season and Tour de France abandon

Almost seven weeks after he last raced his bike, Peter Kennaugh will return to action on Sunday to make his debut at the Tour of Britain.

The parcours would seem to suit the Team Sky rider, and he has the opportunity to give the British champion’s jersey an outing in front of home support, but he is downplaying expectations across the eight stages, running from September 6-13. 

Kennaugh's season has been a disrupted one so far and he hasn’t competed since he pulled out of the Tour de France on stage 16, hampered by illness and lack of form.

“To be honest I'm pretty uncertain about my form. I'm not being cagey; I just don't know where I am at after falling ill at the Tour and taking a good rest," the Manxman told the Tour of Britain website. 

"I've been back on the island (the Isle of Man) for a good spell and doing some training with the Tour of Britain as my target so I feel pretty fit and well again and reasonably fresh. But that doesn’t always translate into good form. There is no substitute for racing miles in the legs and from what I've seen the Tour of Britain its ridden pretty full gas right from the start so it’s not as if might get a chance to ease myself back in like you might get on a Grand Tour."

Kennaugh looks back on the Tour as a disappointing chapter in what has been a season which has had its share of ups and downs. He had a good start to the season, supporting Froome to the Ruta del Sol title while finishing sixth overall himself, but then he was hit by a recurrence of a sacroiliac joint injury that has affected him on-and-off since 2012.

He missed much of the spring, did not finish Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne, or the Tour de Romandie, but then got things back on track at the Tour of California with a solid block of racing that led to a stage win at the Critérium du Dauphiné and a successful defence of his British road race title. That secured his place in the Tour – after his patent dismay at being left out last year – but it also contributed to the burnout which ultimately held him back in France.

“Although I was really pleased with my form perhaps I went bit deep and got a little tired with the travelling around,” Kennaugh acknowledges. “Looking back I suppose it’s possible I got ill after playing catch-up and racing and travelling a lot after an early season injury which left me off the bike altogether for three weeks.

"The Tour was disappointing and frustrating on a personal level - we are a really close team and of course I wanted to make my contribution to Chris Froome's campaign and get to Paris like 2013 - but that's life and sport. Not everything works out the way you want it too. It got to the point where I felt so weak there was nothing left in my legs and couldn't go on. I haven't dwelt on it too much, I’ve just concentrated on getting right and recovering.”

The Tour of Britain kicks off on Sunday on Anglesey in north Wales and culminates in London a week later. The route, on paper, suits Kennaugh's capabilities but given his recent travails he is reluctant to expect too much and is simply happy to be able to throw himself back into the mould of racing. 

“When I look at the route my gut feeling is that it is the sort of race that should suit me if I was in top form with lots of mixed terrain days, one summit finish and there is no TT but realistically I think I will be riding for Ben Swift who is probably our best bet for GC," he said. 

“I intend to enjoy myself. I've missed the racing, being with the lads on a daily basis and the structure of the day and the week that racing gives you. If you are a bike racer that's what you want to do. The crowds always seem to be big on the Tour of Britain and I will get to ride in the British champion's jersey for the week so that’s great.”

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