British Cycling has today announced a six-strong Great Britian Cycling Team to take part in the Tour of Britain which starts in Ipswich on Sunday.
The squad is composed of riders on the U23 British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme, including former Tour de l’Avenir stage winner Simon Yates, and will be directed by Academy coach and manager Keith Lambert.
“It’s a massive opportunity for them [the riders] and it will be really difficult,” Lambert explained. “If we could do equally as well as some of the UK-based teams, that’ll be good.”
Yates, along with George Atkins, Josh Edmonson and first year Academy rider Ali Slater, has also been included on the long list for the U23 Great Britain team at the World Championships in Limburg, Netherlands, later this month.
“It’s difficult to put pressure on one lad with the way the race shapes up,” Lambert added when discussing leadership roles for the race. “If we can get a few top tens [in stages], I’ll be delighted.
“We can’t be comparing ourselves to the likes of Sky or Liquigas but we’ve got nothing to lose.”
The Great Britain team for the Tour of Britain was not initially included on the provisional list of starters released earlier today, September 5, and Cycling Weekly understands that the inclusion of a national team was not a simple decision.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) normally restricts teams from entering races if there are links between different squads which might encourage co-operation and inhibit fair racing.
For example, a feeder team such as the Leopard-Trek development squad would not be permitted to race in the same event as the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek WorldTour squad.
Due to Sky’s sponsorship agreement with British Cycling, there had been worries that the Great Britain national squad could be seen as a feeder team for, or associated with, the Team Sky WorldTour squad.
Lambert, however, asked the UCI to allow a Great Britain team following the success of British riders at the Tour de France and Olympic Games and, with additional lobbying from British Cycling, the UCI permitted the Academy team to ride.
The move brings the number of teams taking part in the Tour of Britain up to 17, totalling 102 riders.
Great Britain Cycling Team, Tour of Britain 2012