Leopard-Trek sign up for 2011 Tour of Britain
Blackpool, Tour of Britain 2010, stage one
Leopard-Trek will be one of five top-level Proteams taking part in this year's Tour of Britain (September 11-18, 2011) according to the event's organisers, Sweetspot.
The new Luxembourg-based outfit that boasts Tour de France hopeful Andy Schleck, his brother Frank and time trial/classics winning machine Fabian Cancellara will be sending along a squad alongside Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Highroad, Saxo Bank and Team Sky.
Sweetspot also report that a 'number' of Professional Continental and Continental teams have also approached them in the hope of taking part in the event. The race has added resonance this year as it will be the final edition before the Olympic Games visit London in 2012 and is only a week before the 2011 road World Championships.
"As ever we've had far more teams approach us with a view to riding The Tour of Britain than we could ever hope to accommodate", said Race Director Mick Bennett.
"It is rewarding for everyone here in the team at SweetSpot to have so many Proteam squads wanting to be a part of The Tour of Britain, and we are certainly aiming to have 50 per cent of the field in September made up of Proteams.
"The fact that The Tour of Britain is ideally situated less than a week before the World Championships take place in Denmark means we will continue to attract world-class riders targeting the Worlds and looking for a tough race in which to hone their form."
Due to a change in Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) legislation, the UCI 2.1-ranked Tour of Britain will also have to invite the top three Continental-level squads - these will be announced by the UCI at the end of January.
Traditionally, the race has included a number of British-based squads including the likes of Rapha-Condor-Sharp, Endura, Motorpoint, Raleigh and Sigma Sport. In order to accommodate the number of interested teams, organisers are hoping that the start sheet will not be restricted to 16 squads.
"We have always sought to have a mixture of Proteam, ProContinental and Continental professional teams racing in The Tour of Britain as we believe this makes for the most exciting and entertaining racing. However the current communiqué from the UCI has put us under pressure to increase the number of Continental teams competing in the event," said Bennett.
"Last year we had six Continental teams competing, five of which were British, and while we would obviously want those teams to return again in 2011, we must also now take into account that the leading three Continental teams from the UCI Europe Tour have to be invited, plus the additional interest from some of the world's biggest teams, such as Leopard-Trek.
"In an ideal world we would be able to incorporate all of these entries; unfortunately we cannot. Over the coming weeks once we have been notified by the UCI of the teams we must invite then we will look to finalise the 2011 entry list, taking into account a number of factors. I'm sure though that come Sunday September 11 there will be a world-class line-up taking to the start line in the Scottish Borders."
However, having over 16 teams with six riders apiece will push the race's total participant list over 100, and that would mean that the race's organisers would have to adhere to Road Traffic Act legislation and obtain the permission from the chief constable of the areas covered by each police service. For 2011, this would include around 20 police services in England, Wales and Scotland.
The full list of teams taking part in the 2011 Tour of Britain and the complete stage list will be announced in the spring. Organisers have previously announced that the race will start in Scotland and finish in London and include at least one stage in the South West.
Tour of Britain: Previous winners
2010 Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
2009 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
2008 Geoffroy Lequatre (France)
2007 Romain Feillu (France)
2006 Martin Pedersen (Denmark)
2005 Nick Nuyens (Belgium)
2004 Mauricio Ardila (Colombia)
Tour of Britain 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index - includes stage reports, photos, teams and more
Tour of Britain 2009: Cycling Weekly's full coverage
Tour of Britain 2008: Cycling Weekly's full coverage