Team Sky's Tour of Britain could hardly have got off to a better start when Elia Viviani pipped Mark Cavendish to victory on day one, and they'll hope that the old adage of start as you mean to go on rings true as the race moves north. The home favourites are not just backing one horse for victories and they are confident that their line-up that could see any one of their riders adding to their tally.
"I think that we've got great options and I think that is going to be exciting as a team. The lads are in a good mood and we're looking forward to the rest of the week," said Team Sky's Head of Performance Operations Rod Ellingworth. "There are lots of permutations that can happen in this bike race and the lads will go out there and try to win. I think we'll try to take it on every day and try to win as much as we can and you either will or you won't. It was millimetres today and that's bike racing."
While there are other British outfits that all gain plenty of attention from the home crowd - including Bradley Wiggins' Team WIGGINS -there is an additional pressure for Team Sky as the only WorldTour team among them. Their popularity was evident as fans lined up in their droves to get the riders' autographs at the start and finish of stage one. Ellingworth is well aware of this and tries to use if to spur on the team.
"That's what sport is. We do try and take responsibility in the UK with our massive British brand. We're super proud of that and that's what we try to say to the riders," he explained. "It's great to have a lot of British riders on the team. It's great that Dave [Team Principal Dave Brailsford] was able to have a good day out, it went past where he lived and when you look back on the last 15 years and what he's done it's great."
This week is doubly important for Team Sky with three of their four riders at the Tour of Britain on Great Britain's long-list for the World Championships. The race will be a chance to make it into the final nine, while there is also the Team Time Trial to consider. With no clear-cut favourite for the title, as with many other teams, the look of the British line-up and tactics is still a fluid concept. Geraint Thomas is a likely contender but it has been a long season for the Welshman and, as Ellingworth explains, there is still plenty of racing between now and then and anything could happen.
"You could go in with one option but it's not that simple. We could go in with a plan now but Cav [Mark Cavendish] might have a problem this week, Froomey [Chris Froome] has crashed out, Geraint might be nailed after the Vuelta so it's hard to really get a plan nailed now," said Ellingworth. "I think for us as a British nation, we've only got 12 or so WorldTour riders and we've got nine riders in the race so we don't have a lot of options. We'll go and we'll race every single lap and what's nice now is that we've got riders that can perform in all different disciplines.
"I think it's quite an open race. I think that we've got some options. I think it's for those classics type guys like [Peter] Sagan, [Alexander] Kristoff, [John] Degenkolb, [Michael] Matthews, there's lots of guys and I think the last two laps will be super exciting."
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