The winner of the polka-dot 'king of the mountains' jersey at this year's Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe, has been confirmed by his Quick-Step Floors team as a starter at this year's OVO Energy Tour of Britain, which starts in Wales on Sunday.
Alongside him will be the Colombian Fernando Gaviria, who's proved himself as one the fastest sprinters in the peloton this season, having won the opening stage of this year's Tour – and taken the first yellow jersey – before backing it up with a second stage win three days later.
Alaphilippe and Gaviria will lead an extremely strong Quick-Step squad at the Tour of Britain, which also includes rising stage-racing star Bob Jungels – who finished 11th overall at this year's Tour de France – and Maximilian Schachmann, who won the stage to Prato Nevoso at this year's Giro d'Italia, as well as a stage at the recent Deutschland Tour.
Quick-Step directeur sportif Brian Holm – a noted Anglophile – is looking forward to again directing the team on the road at this year's race.
"There aren't a lot of races outside the Tour de France with so many spectators, but the Tour of Britain is one of them, and fans always make a very special atmosphere for all the riders and staff members," Holm said in a press release.
Alaphilippe heads to the race as a live-wire rider capable of winning on multiple terrains, and is unlikely to just sit back and hope that he can stay with the best riders.
The Frenchman – who's returning from a break following his win at the Clasica San Sebastian the week after the Tour de France – is likely to go on the attack whenever he can in an all-or-nothing bid to take the overall title.
The steadier Jungels will look for a high overall finish by riding consistently on the climbs, which include two ascents of the tough eastern side Whinlatter Pass in the Lake District on stage 6.
The previous day's team time trial up the western side of Whinlatter Pass should see Quick-Step challenge a strong Team Sky line-up that includes Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Wout Poels.
Gaviria, meanwhile, will be a real threat in the sprints, although he won't have it all his own way. The Colombian can expect to face stiff competition from veteran sprinter André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Mitchelton-Scott fast-man Caleb Ewan, as well as from the domestic British teams such as Madison Genesis, JLT Condor and late replacements for Aqua Blue, Team Wiggins, who will be keen to showcase their abilities on the world stage.
"The parcours is really challenging, but we're going there motivated and with a strong line-up, ready to show why we are 'The Wolfpack'," Holm added, referring to the team's nickname.
"With Gaviria, who'll count on Richeze, we have a fair chance in bunch sprints, while for the hilly part of the race we'll look to Alaphilippe, Jungels and Schachmann.
"Last but not least, we are glad to have Keisse on the team – always an important rider, and an amazing road captain."
Quick-Step Floors for the Tour of Britain: Julian Alaphilippe, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels, Iljo Keisse, Maximiliano Richeze, Maximilian Schachmann
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