Australians Chris Sutton and Trent Lowe will both line-up for Garmin-Slipstream's at the Tour of Britain start on Saturday. While Sutton has his sights set on sprint wins, for Lowe, the race will be an important test after more than two months off with illness.
As the team's designated sprinter at the Tour of Britain, Sutton will target the race's sprint finishes to secure his first victory of the season. "All the boys know it's my opportunity for a sprint, so they'll all be doing what they can to position me at the front," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race.
"The guys [in the Tour of Britain team] are still getting used to doing sprint lead-outs and it does get pretty dangerous. It's a lot easier if you've got another sprinter there because they know what to do and it's normal. It's easier to surf the bunch. For these guys they'll ride tempo on the front of the bunch like we did at Eneco [Tour]."
The 25-year-old Australian is one of four Garmin riders returning to competition in Britain after racing the Eneco Tour last month. Huub Duijn and Riccardo Van Der Velde both rode alongside Sutton at the Benelux tour in support of Tyler Farrar. However, this week, the two Dutchmen and American rider Tom Peterson will be at the service of the Australian sprinter.
Garmin's fourth Eneco participant, Bradley Wiggins, is expected to race in Britain as the team's main contender for overall, although Sutton also pointed to compatriot Lowe as a potential threat. "We've also got Bradley [Wiggins] for the general classification and Trent [Lowe] has been training at altitude in America so we'll see how he goes too."
Lowe told Cyclingnews on Friday that, for him, the priority will be to re-acclimatise to the rigours of professional racing after a two-and-half-month absence with chronic fatigue.
"I've had three viruses in three months and a bit of overtraining led to the fatigue. I think every cyclist has it at some point and I haven't had it for a few years so it was my time to get it. It's quite frustrating for me but its novel to come back to a race for me."
The Tour of Britain will be the 24-year-old's first race since the third stage of the Dauphiné Libéré in June. While he played down his own ambitions for the race Lowe did offer his own take on how the race for overall could play out.
"I haven't raced for a couple of months, so I need to get back into the swing of racing. I'll support Brad and the other guys," he said. "I've had a bit of a look at the course and it's quite up-and-down, I think it's the sort of race where maybe a group of 10 or 15 guys might get away with 10 minutes on the first day and the overall will be decided from that. It's sometimes a bit of a lottery to get in those moves, so we'll support those guys who do make it."
For Lowe, who has not been selected in Australia's long list for the World Championships, his priorities will soon switch to next season. "After this I only have one more race - the Jayco Sun Tour in Australia – and then it is the off-season and it's just a case of being measured, keeping some base fitness and then trying to hit next year hard."
Sutton has been named in Australia's 18-man Worlds pre-selection, but he said he doesn't expect to be included in the final nine man team to tackle the tough Mendrisio course. Both riders expect to end their respective seasons at home at the Jayco Sun Tour. Garmin Team Director Matt White indicated on Friday that the Tour of Britain squad would closely resemble the one that will travel to Australia for the October race.
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