The Tour of Britain gets underway in Glasgow on Sunday and, as ever, an open eight days of racing are in prospect before the overall winner is crowned in London the following weekend.
At this point in the season, riders have varying levels of form and motivation, but the Tour of Britain is a race with something for everyone and its position in the build-up to the World Championships means that it attracts a quality field. Cyclingnews casts an eye over some of the riders who are likely to hit the headlines over the week-long race.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)
Having peaked at the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and then the Olympic Games, Tom Dumoulin begins the next phase of his season at the Tour of Britain. The Dutch time triallist will have one eye on the World Championships in October but the 15-kilometre test on stage 7a perfectly suits his characteristics, even if it is on the short side. In terms of the overall classification, much will depend on Dumoulin's motivation. The roads and terrain at the Tour of Britain can be unforgiving and concentration is as much of a factor as form. Given the fact that Dumoulin is building up his condition after a short break, one can foresee him pinpointing the time trial and the summit finish to Haytor, with a more 'day-by-day' approach towards the rest of the race.
Previous form: This is Dumoulin's first appearance at the race.
Like Dumoulin, the Manxman will be using the Tour of Britain to hone his condition with the World Championships part of his later season ambitions. However, unlike the Giant-Alpecin rider, Cavendish will be under the microscope from the get-go, the glory of his Olympic silver medal pushed into the annals of history with expectancy and pressure to deliver at least one stage win on home roads. In his favour are a number of factors, not least his ability to flip from track to road so successfully this year. Add to that his impressive race craft in messy field sprints and he starts as the man to beat in the bunch kicks. The problem is that so many of the stages in the race contain relentlessly difficult terrain, and as a marked man, Cavendish and Dimension Data will be expected to work harder than most in order to set up opportunities.
Previous form: A winner of ten stages in the race, Cavendish is the man to beat in the bunch sprints.
If Poels races with the bit between his teeth then the overall classification is a realistic goal. Second last year, and enjoying his best season to date with a Liege-Bastogne-Liege title and superb supporting role in the Tour de France, he will lead the line for Team Sky in the GC battle. With Elia Viviani targeting the sprint stages, the British team head into the Tour of Britain with multiple ambitions, and while there are better time triallists than Poels in the race, the 28-year-old can be counted on to make the key selections on the tougher road stages.
Previous form: Winner of a stage and second overall in 2015 behind Edvald Boasson Hagen.
While this has undoubtedly been a successful year for the 27-year-old from Milan, there is still a sense that he does not win as much as he should or could. This year has seen him win his second points jersey at the Giro d'Italia, claim a national title on the road and hoover up two stages at the Tour of Croatia, but the Tour of Britain will provide Nizzolo with a stern test against Cavendish, André Greipel and the rest of the sprint contingent. Creating the opportunities has never been an issue, but finishing them off has been a problem. In his favour, Nizzolo has a strong team and decent form, placing third recently in Hamburg and eighth in Plouay.
Previous form: Rode the race in 2011, picking up two top ten finishes.
True to his word, it was all about Rio 2016 and a fifth Olympic title this year, so results on the road have been sparse to say the least. The Tour de Yorkshire, where he pulled out after just a couple of hours, came during time of huge pressure with the Shane Sutton fall-out at its highest but Wiggins, now on his victory tour, will be given a free hand at the Tour of Britain. The former winner is unlikely to contest the tougher stages, his body not tuned for road racing, and his mind not focused on the overall, yet his role will be imperative if his WIGGINS squad are to taste success. Last year Owain Doull finished third on GC, and Wiggins has stated that he will be at the race to support his younger teammates, Scott Davis and Alex Knox – two up-and-coming U23 riders with noted promise. A strong ride in the individual time trial is expected of Wiggins but given he's been training for 4000m efforts for the last 18 months, he will start as an underdog.
Previous form: Won the race in 2013 and was third a year later, winning the final time trial in the process.