Home stars give their thoughts as race gets underway
After being forced out of the Vuelta a España early on, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has a chance to get his world championships preparation back on track at the Tour of Britain, which gets under way on Sunday.
Cavendish withdrew from the Vuelta on the road to Sierra Nevada on stage 4, but the Manxman has prepared well in the intervening period and will be the star attraction in what is his first appearance at the British race since 2007. Finishing just a week before the road race in Copenhagen, Cavendish is hopeful that the Tour of Britain may yet turn out to be the ideal preparation.
"I am glad to get a start here, I’ve been training well and hopefully I will taper well for the world championships,” he said at Saturday’s pre-race press conference. “Eight days is a good length of tour as final preparation for the world championships.”
Not that Cavendish is riding solely to make up the numbers and build for the Worlds. "I am not here just to ride the route, I want to win stages and we want to be successful," he said.
After missing out on overall victory in their first tilt at the race in 2010, Team Sky will be looking to make amends this time around, as Geraint Thomas (Sky) pointed out.
“It has been a long year but we’ve got a strong team here and we want to win the race,” the Welshman said. “It’s a tough race and it’s grown over the past few years. We’re looking forward to it and hopefully come away with the jersey.”
Veteran Roger Hammond is part of a solid Garmin-Cervélo line-up and he said that the inclusion of riders of the calibre of world champion Thor Hushovd is indicative of how the race and cycling’s profile in Britain have grown over the past seven years.
"Since I first rode in 2004 it’s evolved hugely. Just look at the start sheet to see that,” Hammond said. “In 2004, nobody would have known it was on or you would have had to win the Tour de France to get people to come and support you.”