British sporting heroes, Tokyo 2020 Olympic medallists, world champions and former stage and jersey winners will all feature in this year’s Tour of Britain (Sunday 5 – 12 September).
Devon will host Stage Two of the Tour on Monday 6 September, starting in the new town of Sherford and finishing in Exeter.
Just days away from the start of the race, the provisional line-ups for the 18 competing teams have today been revealed. The field of riders includes five reigning national road race champions and four reigning time trial champions – with 20 different nationalities being represented.
Among those competing are:
• Sprinter Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), winner of the most stages in modern Tour of Britain history
• Tokyo 2020 medallists Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma), Ethan Hayter and Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers)
• Reigning UCI road world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step)
• Former Tour of Britain stage winners Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers), André Greipel, Alex Dowsett, Matthias Brändle (Israel Start – Up Nation) and Tony Martin (Team Jumbo – Visma)
• Cycling stars Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Dan Martin, Michael Woods (Israel Start – Up Nation) and Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers)
• Four of the race’s former ŠKODA King of the Mountains winners: Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin – Fenix), Lukasz Owsian (Team Arkéa – Samsic), Nic Dlamini (Team Qhubeka NextHash) and Jacob Scott (Canyon dhb SunGod)
Deceuninck – Quick-Step, the most successful team in modern Tour of Britain history, will be led by fan favourites Cavendish and Alaphilippe. Cavendish won the last three of his 10 stage victories in the race riding for the Belgian team in the 2013 edition, and returns to Britain after a spectacular Tour de France in which he won four stages and the points jersey.
Frenchman Alaphilippe, who will be easily distinguishable to roadside spectators owing to his world champion’s rainbow jersey, has been tipped by many to repeat the overall victory he achieved in the 2018 race.
Van Aert, winner of three Tour de France stages in July and silver medallist in the Olympic road race, spearheads Jumbo-Visma’s team. Alongside Kiwi climber and Grand Tour top-10 finisher George Bennett, Norwegian road race champion Tobias Foss and Australian all-rounder Chris Harper, van Aert is one of four riders in their squad who will make their Tour of Britain debuts in 2021.
INEOS Grenadiers, the world’s number one team, have once again named a strong team for the Tour of Britain, led by Tokyo 2020 silver medallist and recent Tour of Norway winner Ethan Hayter. Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski and Welshman Owain Doull are both former Tour of Britain podium finishers; Kwiatkowski and Australian Rohan Dennis have also previously won stages of the UK’s biggest bike race. Richie Porte, third overall at the 2020 Tour de France, returns to the event for the first time since his 2010 debut.
Three Tour of Britain stage winners – André Greipel, Matthias Brändle and Briton Alex Dowsett – feature in Israel Start–Up Nation’s powerful line-up. The Tour will be one of the final races of Greipel’s prestigious 16-year career, during which time he has claimed over 150 victories. The German sprinter has remarkably won at least one stage in each of his four visits to the Tour of Britain, amassing seven victories in total. He is also one of only five men in modern race history to have won stages in England, Scotland and Wales. Brändle won back-to-back stages in the 2014 Tour, the first of which came in Exeter, which hosts the finish of Stage Two on Monday 6 September, while Essex rider Dowsett triumphed in our London individual time trial 10 years ago. Irish star Dan Martin and Canadian Michael Woods add to the team’s tactical options.
Other stars competing include Nic Dlamini (Team Qhubeka NextHash), who became the first black South African to compete in the Tour de France in 2021, renowned stage race talent Marc Soler (Movistar Team) and 2018 British road race champion Connor Swift (Team Arkéa-Samsic).
In addition to INEOS Grenadiers, six other home squads will be in action at the 2021 Tour of Britain: Canyon dhb SunGod, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, Saint Piran, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, TRINITY Racing and a GB national team.
The 115-mile Devon Stage will feature 3,499 metres of climbing between Sherford and Exeter. It will take in a number of communities on its way through the South Hams and across Dartmoor, including Ermington, Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Modbury, Ivybridge, Cornwood, Yelverton, Tavistock, Princetown, Moretonhampstead and Dunsford.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “This is an incredible line-up of riders and is probably one of the best we’ve ever seen at any Tour of Britain. The excitement really is building ahead of the start of the race and everyone’s looking forward to seeing world class cyclists back in Devon. We’re hoping that spectators turn out, enjoy the event and support our local businesses, but work with us by following the latest Covid-19 advice to enable everyone to watch the race safely.”
Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett said: “The fact that we were unable to run the Tour of Britain in 2020 was enough to raise the excitement level going into this year’s event. Yet, combined with the truly spectacular and challenging route we’ve designed, the quality of this year’s start list makes me believe that we’re about to witness one of the most exciting editions of the modern race to date.
“We look forward to seeing the roads of Great Britain lined with spectators all the way from Penzance to Aberdeen, and I would encourage everybody planning to attend the race to respect their fellow spectators and, of course, the riders, as well as following local COVID-19 guidance. See you all next week – I can’t wait!”