Tomorrow the Tour of Britain kicks off from Liverpool for the 2014 race, and that’s something for British cycling fans to be excited about.
The Tour of Britain has been growing, quietly, in the wings for many years now (its modern incaranation began back in 2004). Just like anything prefaced with ‘The Tour of’, the Tour of Britain is a multi-stage race that tickles as many areas of the country as it can in its eight stages.
This year, it rolls out of Liverpool and does a loop through the historical port city. It takes a good hack into the beautiful Welsh countryside, flirts with the South West on its 6th stage from Exmouth to Exeter, whizzes from the historical city of Bath to the Hertfordshire town of Hemel Hempstead, then does a lap of honour to finish things off in London.
So why should we all be getting excited? Two things:
- The competition
All of the big teams will be swinging into town on the 7th September. Gamin-Sharp, Movistar, Sky, Omega Pharma-Qickstep, Giant Shimano, Cannondale, Belkin, Tinkoff-Saxo, and BMC Racing (who will be making their debut at the race).
A particularly intriguing addition to the competition is Marcel Kittel. After his stellar performances at the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, the enigmatic German piece of quicksilver has never been beaten in the UK. The opening stage in Liverpool is tailored for a sprint. And guess who will be there to gnash his teeth at his elbow? Yes, Mark Cavendish has made a full recovery and will be looking for some recompense after going down on the first stage of the Tour de France in front of friends, family, and the Prime Minister.
The competition is possibly less sizzling for the GC riders. No Froome, no Quintana, no Tour de France winner Nibali. Home favourite Bradley Wiggins, however, will be starting. He’ll have the likes of Lars Boom (Belkin) and Sylvian Chavanel (IAM Cycling) to contend with, and the pressure of a home crowd who never got to see him set off from Yorkshire earlier in the year. Maybe too much too soon for a man whose been making the headlines for Team Sky politics more than his racing as of late?
- British Cycling
The Tour de France left Yorkshire this year, which was pretty spectacular for cycling in this country. There is, however, still a lot more to do to open up cycling as a sport to Brits. Cycling is still seen as an anomaly on the sporting calendar for many. It’s enjoyed when summer arrives, and the nation can watch the riders sweat up the Pyrenees as they flip the burgers on their BBQs.
But cycling has been given a beautiful launch by the power and prestige of the Grand Depart. More primo races on British soil is the perfect way to capitalise
Hopefully the Tour of Britain will spur on more fans, more home grown talent, and more understanding that cycling is a full year-on calendar of competition to be enjoyed.
This is me looking pretty excited about the Tour of Britain on Westminster Bridge last year. Fingers crossed for another year of fierce competition, beautiful British countryside, and home-grown talent flourishing.