World's best cyclists heading to Cumbria
CYCLING fans in Cumbria will see some of the world's leading riders in action when the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain passes through the county next week.
The 15th edition of the modern race will feature its strongest field, including three of the top five-ranked riders in the world.
Britain’s most successful Grand Tour rider Chris Froome (reigning world number two) and his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas (world number five) headline the startlist, having claimed overall victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France respectively.
“As soon as I’d finished the Tour I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain and race on home roads,” said Thomas. “It starts in Wales which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the UK. I can’t wait.”
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors, world number four) will make his debut in the race, having won two stages of this year’s Tour de France and the race’s prestigious King of the Mountains jersey. He has only previously raced once in Britain, finishing third in the 2014 edition of Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
The startlist also features Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo, fourth overall in this year’s Tour de France), Colombian Fernando Gaviria and Germany’s Max Schachmann (both Quick-Step Floors), all of whom have won Grand Tour stages in 2018.
Also among the starters are former OVO Energy Tour of Britain stage victors André Greipel (Lotto Soudal, five wins), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT, four), Wout Poels (Team Sky, three), Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data, two), Alex Dowsett (Team KATUSHA ALPECIN, one), Ben Swift (Great Britain, one) Ian Stannard (Team Sky, one) and Tony Martin (Team KATUSHA ALPECIN, one).
The start list also features two national road race champions, including British champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis), who is relishing the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue jersey in the eight-day race, which starts on Sunday.
“It will be pretty special to wear the jersey — I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s the biggest race in Britain. It’ll be an interesting race; there are a few sprint stages, a few lumpy days.
“But maybe a breakaway or two will stay clear; it would be good to see some of the guys I race with on a weekly basis getting in the mix at some of the finishes and maybe even claiming a big win.”
Five reigning national time trial champions, including Thomas, will have their chance to wear their champions’ jerseys on stage five in Cumbria during the race’s innovative, 14-kilometre uphill team time trial from Cockermouth to Whinlatter on Thursday. The following day the race starts in Barrow before finishing back at Whinlatter.