All six of Britain’s UCI-ranked domestic teams will ride this year’s Tour of Britain, which starts in Peebles, Scotland, on Sunday.
However, if you’re a bit confused and you don’t know your Bibbys from your Barkers, Cycling Weekly will this week be giving you a beginners’ guide to the sextet of squads. After their domination of this year’s Tour Series, you may be familiar with UK Youth, but if not, DS Dave Povall talks us through the team.
Tour of Britain participations: 1 (2012)
Stage wins: 0
Jersey wins: 0
Best result: 21st overall, Yanto Barker (2012)
CW: What does the Tour of Britain mean to you?
Dave Povall: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to take on the biggest teams in the world. The success we’ve had this year does not put any extra pressure on us to do well – we want to go out there, look and perform professionally and do the charity [UK Youth] and ourselves proud at every race. We don’t want to be thought of as “just a little UK team”, for example. It’s also a good chance for us to show off the quality of the British domestic scene – if a Tour of Britain comes out and sees us doing well, then who knows, maybe next year they’ll come to watch some domestic racing?”
CW: Is exposure more important than the results?
DP: “They go hand in hand. We want to raise the profile of UK Youth, a nationwide charity that is over 100 years old but is still relatively little-known in the country. The race touches three of the four home nations, and has free-to-air television coverage in the UK, so it’s a good way of getting people involved. Obviously we don’t want to be passengers. Having a UCI licence and getting selected for the race doesn’t simply mean we’ve made it, we want to animate the race and show [race organiser] SweetSpot respect for putting it on and inviting us.”
CW: Can you talk us through your Tour of Britain line-up?
DP: “Yanto Barker brings experience across both the international and British racing scene. Every team needs a road captain, and that’s even more important in races when there aren’t any radios, so Yanto has the experience to know when to switch to a Plan B or C ad hoc. He’s a consistent performer – I can’t think of a race this year when he hasn’t made the selection during it – and he’s a box ticker. He does exactly what he needs to every time he races. Marcin Bialoblocki is nicknamed “The Machine”, because that’s what he is. He’s got proven stage-race credentials; he won the Ras in Ireland this year and spent five days in yellow, which says a lot about him. He had to go in. There’s only two UCI-ranked one-day races in Britain, and Ian Wilkinson won one of those [the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic] this year. He was damn close to winning a Tour of Britain stage [into Sandringham] in 2011, but his ability to win from breakaways in obvious. If he’s in a move with 10km to go, I’d fancy him to finish it off. He’s one of the hardest riders in Britain, and this is the hardest Tour of Britain course I recall, which is why he’s in the team.
Mould (l) and Barker (r) during the Tour of the Reservoir
“This time last year, Jon Mould watched the race in fancy dress on Caerphilly Mountain. He’s continuously proved this year – he sniffed out an opportunity to win the Tour Series round in Colchester – and won the under-23 jersey at the Tour of Jamtland, a good level stage race in Sweden last month. He’s got stage race experience from his time on the [British Cycling Olympic] Academy, and he got round RideLondon in as good a shape as any domestic rider. Chris Opie - is he the fastest sprinter in the UK? I think so, and I reckon he’s in the top two at the Tour of Britain, which I know is a bold statement. At the top level, experience is key, and I think that probably counted against him last year. He’s a fantastic lad – everyone on the team is – and he’ll do the jersey proud, even if sprint finishes are likely to be few and far between. Finally Rob Partridge, who I can’t believe Endura didn’t select in 2011 and 2012. He’s similar to Yanto, he brings a lot of experience [he's raced six previous editions of the Tour of Britain] and is cool and calm on the road. He’s got a great work ethic.”
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