With Sunday marking the beginning of the 10th annual Tour of Britain, some of the world’s top road cyclists are now underway in their attempt to etch their name into the event’s history books.
The week-long competition promises to unveil a new champion since Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is not back to defend his title.
Although the Briton’s presence will be missed, there’s a certain other talented home figure who could well take his place at the head of the pack, as well as several other favourites who’ll be hoping to stake their claim in the pursuit of British glory.
Sir Bradley Wiggins
The headliner of the home riders, Sir Bradley Wiggins, returns to the road as he continues his recovery from injury and is unsurprisingly the favourite to emerge victorious with the British backing behind him.
Wiggins has a certain affinity with the Tour of Britain, it being the first stage race he ever cycled back in 1999, meaning the Olympic gold medallist has special sentiment to come out on top of the overall standings.
Last year, the 33-year-old was forced to pull out of this competition due to a stomach bug, and this could be one of his last opportunities to win the event after BBC Sport announced that the Belgium-born cyclist would be returning to the track at the end of next season.
2013 has been a forgettable year for Wiggins so far, riddled with injury and a lack of consistent form, but success in his home event would be the ideal way to turn that trend around.
Another of the favourites to keep one eye out for will be Dan Martin, who returns to the Tour of Britain having not competed in the event since 2010.
The 27-year-old wasn’t expected to feature, but after pulling out of the Vuelta a Espana due to injuries sustained early on in the race, his pedigree presence is one that only adds to the vast quality already in the field.
Martin confirmed his attendance late on via Twitter:
Martin managed to finish fourth in this competition in 2008, and the English-born Irishman will be no stranger to the conditions that are likely to be thrown up over the next six days, something that will play into his hands.
One of those riders at the forefront of the Colombian cycling revolution, Nairo Quintana is perhaps among the biggest threats to Team Sky and Wiggins.
The Movistar representative will be looking to build on his runner-up finish at this year’s Tour de France by going on offence against another Briton.
In the Alps, it was Chris Froome that felt the full fury of the South American youngster at times, but this time 'round it will be Wiggins and Mark Cavendish who will look to spoil Quintana’s dreams of an upset.
The 23-year-old has as much passion to win as any other, which has become clearer and clearer in recent months, but the question is whether a lack of mountaintop finishes will work against this ascent-suited climber.
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