The 2013 Tour of Britain starts on Sunday, September 15, and boasts one of the most star-studded start lists since the race returned in 2004.
We take a quick look at the contenders and British riders to watch out for during the eight-day race.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
The Colombian Tour de France runner-up has previously said the Tour of Britain forms part of his preparation for the World Championships road race, which hopefully means he won’t spend the week sitting anonymously at the back of the peloton.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
The Vuelta’s loss is the Tour of Britain’s gain. Martin abandoned the Tour of Spain after a nasty stage seven crash, and was a last-minute addition to the Garmin-Sharp line-up. The Irishman finished fourth overall in 2008, but did not finish the 2010 Tour, his last participation in the race.
Thomas Löfkvist (IAM Cycling)
Despite never achieving the success many people thought he would a few years ago, the Swede is a solid week-long stage racer and won the Tour Méditerranéen in February.
Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka)
2013 has been the German sprinter’s best season since he rode for T-Mobile alongside Mark Cavendish, taking Milan-San Remo in the spring. Ciolek still struggles to convert top-10 placings into wins – don’t expect that habit to change here, either.
Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox)
He may not be a household name, but Battaglin won a Giro stage this year in only his second year as a professional. The Italian is that highly regarded by his team, they signed him aged 17 and nurtured him through the youth scene.
The Brit Pack
Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
Wiggins was the British 10-mile champion in 2011 and held the distance record for four years between 2006 and 2010, so is likely to be the overwhelming favourite for the Knowsley time trial stage held over the same length. The stage will show the Sky rider’s credentials ahead of the World Championships time trial which follows the a week after the Tour of Britain. Wiggins is also believed to be making a concerted effort to take the overall win.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
Winner of five stages in the last two editions of the race, Cavendish needs one more to become the most successful rider since the Tour’s revival in 2004. Despite the tough parcours, there should be at least three opportunities for the Manxman to surpass Edvald Boasson Hagen from the top of the all-time stage winner’s table. He is also only one of three riders to wear all four leaders’ jerseys in the race.
Alex Dowsett (Movistar)
The three-time British time trial champion triumphed the last time the Tour of Britain held a stage against the clock in 2011. Luck hasn’t been on Dowsett’s side recently – he crashed out of last month’s Eneco Tour and a cold forced him to abandon the GP Ouest Plouay at the start of September.
Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT)
Winner of the Skoda King of the Mountains in 2012, this will be House’s eighth-consecutive Tour. Only Evan Oliphant (Raleigh) has started the race as many times as the 2009 National Road Race Champion. House was a breakaway regular last year, and a diversion from that tactic this year would be somewhat surprising.
Simon Yates (Great Britain)
Winner of two stages in the recent Tour de l’Avenir, the 21-year-old has become one of the hottest properties in cycling. Speculation continues to link him to Sky, but he told Cycling Weekly last week no deal has been finalised.
Tour of Britain 2013: Coverage index