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4th Tour of Britain - Race Preview
By Nick Bull
Date: 9/8/2007
4th Tour of Britain - Race Preview

4th Tour of Britain  - Race Preview
Back this year with 7 days of excitement from the historic Crystal Palace of London to the Glasgow, Scotland. The race, stages and team and rider rosters.

September 9 - 15 2007

In many ways, I'm looking forward to going back to watching a Cycle race that isn't so 'exclusive' and commercial. Perched where I was on The Mall, for the Tour de France Prologue this year, I was opposite the Sponsors area. Filled to the rafters, many of them were not watching the race, the Champagne was clearly too enjoyable.

The Tour of Britain isn't like that. Since its reincarnation onto the UCI Calendar back in 2004, the race has attracted modest crowds, alongside a competitive field. Competing alongside the Vuelta and Tour of Poland, it is never going to be recognised by the Pro Tour series, though some of Europe's best teams still come across the pond from mainland Europe, presumably to suffer the sheer delights of the British weather.

This year, the organisers have made some key adjustments, hoping they will add to the excitement of the race - which can only mean more spectators. The decision to move the race back a week coincides with children beginning the term time at High School or College. With the obsession to be slim and the ongoing 'fight' against obesity, Cycling is being promoted as a way to keep fit and healthy. Whether or not this will work remains to be seen; those on holiday for the summer would have greater freedom to travel to watch the race go by; during schooling hours this is more prohibitive, and only convenient if the route is local to their place of education.

For the first time in this incarnation of the race's history, a Prologue Time Trial is included. Stage one last year saw a three man group gain over two-and-a-half minutes on the Peloton, making the field of contenders ridiculously small before the race had begun in earnest. I can see why the decision to start with a Prologue was taken, though the course, at 2.5km is hardly going to shake the GC up; perhaps that is the intention here.

Tour of Britain

The Prutour
When the Prutour was on the Calendar in 1998 and 1999, it alternated between the race start in Scotland (1998) and a finish in the capital city, Edinburgh, a year later. This year's decision to start in Crystal Palace (just out of the English Capital's centre) worries me slightly. Not knowing in depth any problems that a Central London finish would encounter, the final stages around Westminster and The Mall held in previous years have been truly spectacular. The circuits used have been raced, and are more than conducive to exciting racing. The crowds turned up in their droves, too.

The Prologue location is harder to get to - no Underground branches out to Crystal Palace, and Rail services are often problematic on Sundays due to engineering works. I can only hope that people amass in Glasgow in a weeks time - though I'm saddened that the route isn't a, or involves a street circuit to end off this race.

Nonetheless, I love this race, and every year I've attended it - without fail, my passion for Cycling is reignited by the event, even when it's not waning. Every year, the Teams are nothing but welcoming, approachable, and more than happy to mix with the spectators. The large entourage that follows them for a lot of the European races is reduced here to a car and motor home or two.

Race Announcers David Duffield and Hugh Porter are always in an uplifting mood; one can only assume that the job advertisement stated something along the lines of: 'Wanted - lively announcers with a good sense of humour' (If not, what happened, I ask!?!). Then there's the field; the smaller Pro Continental teams alongside those the ordinary spectator may have heard of by watching that little French race in July.

This year's starters are an interesting mob; 2006 Winner, Martin Pederson (CSC) is returning and is looking to retain his title. Tinkoff are bringing an attacking team to the event, led by 2000 Tour de France stage winner Salvatore Commesso. Paul Manning and Ed Clancy are leading the way for the Great British team; the Prologue may well suit their style and attributes, though an overall GC position may be harder to come by.

Barloworld and T-Mobile are the names that continue to pop up when mentioning the race; their selections are encouraging for all involved. Robbie Hunter has seemingly found his way again after the pressured nature of the top teams forced him to look to a smaller outfit; he continuously pushed Tom Boonen in the Tour de France, culminating in a stage win. Teammate Enrico Degano is racing too; he won into Westminster back in 2004.

Mark Cavendish after winning the final stage in the Ster Elektro Toer. Photo c. Bart Hazen

Home favourites Mark Cavendish and Roger Hammond are in the T-Mobile line-up; the former is looking to win on home soil after the chance past him by in the run into Canterbury on the Tour's opening road stage. His senior, Hammond, has an exceptional record in this race; a stage win is likely. Stage Four into Bradford is likely, as the final 20km are undulating.

Roger Hammond at the Paris Roubaix team presentation 2004.
Photo c. Marianne Werz O'Brien

An outside bet to impress would be the Plowman Craven-Evans Cycles team. In the British Premier Calendar series this year, they have taken three wins, the last was by Gordon McCauley in August's Tour of Pendle race. He finished second overall in the calendar to Chris Newton, who is also racing. Fastman Tony Gibb, who leads the team, is one for the sprints- he won the Blackpool GP, beating Liquigas' Magnus Backstedt, amongst others. Sadly, though, the team's livery matches that of Slipstream in terms of taste and decency........

The Stages
Prologue - Sunday, September 9 - 2.5 km: Crystal Palace
Stage 1 - Monday, September 10 138.9km: Reading to Southampton
Stage 2 - Tuesday, September 11 169.2km: Yeovil to Taunton
Stage 3 - Wednesday, September 12 - 152.5km: Worcester to Wolverhampton
Stage 4 Thursday, September 13 163.3km: Rotherham to Bradford
Stage 5 - Friday, September 14 170.1km: Liverpool to Kendal
Stage 6 - Saturday, September 15 156.5km: Dumfries to Glasgow

Provisional Rider List
Team CSC
1. Pedersen, Martin DEN
2. Lund, Anders DEN
3. Goss, Matthew AUS
4. Haedo, Juan Jose ARG
5. Bak, Lars DEN
6. Roberts, Luke AUS

Tinkoff Credit Systems
11. Commesso, Salvatore ITA
12. Contrini, Daniele ITA
13. Ignatiev, Mikhail RUS
14. Petrov, Eugeni RUS
15. Serov, Alexander RUS
16. Weigold, Stefen GER

Great Britain
21. Manning, Paul GBR
22. Clancy, Ed GBR
23. Bellis, John GBR
24. Hampton, Russell GBR
25. Tennant, Andrew GBR
26. Dowsett, Alex GBR

31. Hunter, Robbie RSA
32. Degano, Enrico ITA
33. Bonomi, Giosue' ITA
34. Thomas, Geraint GBR
35. Caccia, Diego ITA
36. Swift, Ben GBR

41. Maaskant, Martijn NED
42. Berkhout, Thomas NED
43. Keizer, Martijn NED
44. Van Poppel, Boy NED
45. Popov, Evgeny RUS
46. Veelers, Tom NED
51. Newton, Cristopher GBR
52. Partridge, Rob GBR
53. Holt, Simon GBR
54. Diggle, Tom GBR
55. Bonser, Ryan GBR
56. Bonser, Adam GBR

Team Konica Minolta
61. Van Heerden, Christoff RSA
62. Thompson, Jay RSA
63. Green, Jock RSA
64. Froome, Christopher KEN
65. Kannemeyer,Tiaan RSA
66. Van Niekerk, Dennis RSA

71. Bernabeu Armengol, Vicente David ESP
72. Palomares Vilaplana, Adrian ESP
73. Lloret Zaragozi, Manuel ESP
74. Bonilla Bonilla, Jose Adrian CRC
75. Artetxte Gezeuraga, Mikel ESP
76. Munoz Banon, David ESP

DFL-Cycling News-Litespeed
81. Haynes, Hamish GBR
82. Lloyd, Daniel GBR
83. Mattan, Nico BEL
84. Oliphant, Evan GBR
85. Fleeman, Daniel GBR
86. Sulzberger, Bernie AUS

Plowman Craven-Evans Cycles
91. Gibb, Tony GBR
92. McCauley, Gordon NZL
93. Gaywood, Simon GBR
94. McCallum, James GBR
95. Millard, James GBR
96. Richardson, Simon GBR

Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
101. Caethoven, Steven BEL
102. Stubbe, Tom BEL
103. De Ketele, Kenny BEL
104. Pauwels, Serge BEL
105. Verbist, Evert BEL
106. Hovelijnck, Kurt BEL

Duja Tavira
111. Garrido, Martin ARG
112. Vitorino, Nelson POR
113. Mestre, Ricardo POR
114. Blanco, David ESP
115. Sneeboer, Paul NED
116. Caldeira, Samuel POR.

121. Dekkers, Hans NED
122. Coutouly, Cedrid FRA
123. Feillu, Romain FRA
124. Berges, Emilien FRA
125. Robin, Denis FRA
126. Herve, Cedric FRA

131. Goesinnen, Floris NED
132. Rooijakkers, Piet NED
133. Vierhouten, Aart NED
134. Timmer, Albert NED
135. L.hotellerie, Clement FRA
136. Doi, Yukihiro JAP

Navigators Insurance
141. House, Kristian GBR
142. Clarke Hilton AUS
143. O'Loughlin, David IRL
144. Power, Ciaran IRL
145. Rapinski, Victor BLR
146. Van Ulden, Bernard USA

151. Bates, Gene AUS
152. Clarke, Simon AUS
153. Walker, Johnnie AUS
154. Ford, Michael AUS
155. Sulzberger, Wesley AUS
156. Dempster, Zakkari AUS

T- Mobile
161. Cavendish, Mark GBR
162. Gerdemann, Linus GER
163. Hammond, Roger GBR
164. Hansen, Adam AUS
165. Rabon, Frantisek CZE
166. Stannard, Ian GBR

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