The Tour of Britain professional stage race ? billed by the promoters as the UK’s biggest free sporting event ? is set to make sporting history when 16 teams roll out from the Glasgow start next Tuesday, August 29. And this third edition of the modern incarnation of the Tour of Britain, concludes with the first-ever road stage across the capital, before a spectacular circuit race finish on The Mall on Sunday, September 3.

In total 16 six-man teams will contest the UCI 2.3-ranked six-day race, which features world road race champion Tom Boonen of Belgium leading the Quick Step team. Boonen has history with the race, having won the Nottingham stage in 2004. Second favourite must be T-Mobile’s Andreas Klöden, second in the 2004 Tour de France behind Lance Armstrong, and third at the Tour this year.

For your full guide to this year’s Tour of Britain, buy Cycling Weekly August 24 issue.


THE STAGES
Stage 1, August 29: Glasgow-Castle Douglas, 162.6km
The last 30 kilometres will decide whether or not the break stays away. If the peloton starts to wind up the speed it may just haul in the escapees before the finish line. If the big-name sprinters want a stage win, they?ll put their domestiques on the front and start the chase.

Stage 2, August 30: Blackpool-Liverpool, 163km
Although the hardest terrain is early in the stage, the decisive racing is likely to be saved for the sprint. If there is a crunch point, it will be in the final few kilometres, when we will see if the sprinters? teams have successfully controlled the attacks.

Stage 3, August 31: Bradford-Sheffield, 180km
The final 50km is where the race should explode. The steep climbs will soften up the riders while the sprint across the top of the moors should see the field lined out as the splits in the peloton grow. A stiff wind will make it even more interesting. Not a time to be caught napping at the back of the field.

Stage 4, September 1: Wolverhampton-Birmingham, 130km
The last 30 kilometres will decide whether or not the break stays away. If the peloton starts to wind up the speed it may just haul in the escapees before the finish line. If the big-name sprinters want a stage win, they?ll put their domestiques on the front and start the chase.

Stage 5, September 2: Rochester-Canterbury, 152km
If the bunch is together it will be the run-in to Canterbury that?s decisive. With wide main roads (that are newly resurfaced) running downhill in to the city this will be a mouth-watering sprint. For anyone with designs on the stage, they?ll need to get in to a good position and then keep themselves there if they want the win.

Stage 6, September 3: Greenwich Park-The Mall, 82km
The final time round the Queen Victoria Memorial and on to The Mall will be the crunch point. It?s just 300 metres from here to the finish line, and if a rider?s not on the right wheel at this point there?s no chance of winning. With the peloton travelling at around 65kph there?s very little chance of moving up.


THE TEAMS
QuickStep-Innergetic
T-Mobile
Great Britain
Davitamon Lotto
Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
Recycling.co.uk
Phonak iShares
CSC
DFL-Cycling News-Litespeed
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
Denmark
Unibet
Skil-Shimano
Barloworld
South Australia.com-AIS


THE FAVES
Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Belgium
Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon Lotto), Belgium
Axel Merckx (Phonak iShares), Belgium
Nick Nuyens (Quick Step), Belgium
Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Australia
Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile), Germany


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