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Dauphiné Libéré
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Tour of Britain - 2.1

Great Britain, August 30-September 4, 2005

Strong lineup for 2005 Tour of Britain

By Shane Stokes

Mauricio Ardila (Chocolade Jacques)
Photo ©: John Pierce
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Following the reintroduction of the Tour of Britain last year, top class racing returns once again to the roads of Great Britain this week with the running of the second edition of the event. Although the field has been affected somewhat by the new ProTour, a good lineup will nevertheless line up in the six day race, which begins on Tuesday in Glasgow and concludes on Sunday on the streets of London.

Star attraction is world time trial champion Mick Rogers, who is aiming to build back up from a disappointing Tour de France with a good ride here. Rogers has the chance to go for his third straight world TT title in Madrid towards the end of September and is in the process of honing his form. He feels he is in with a shot of taking the final victory.

"I think I have a good chance in this race," he said. "That is simply because I know I have a great team behind me but also because I am really motivated. It is extremely important to be confident. There are some great riders in this year’s Tour but I feel good and strong. My preparation has been tough and I am looking forward to the start in Glasgow."

Rogers’ bid for victory will be backed by a strong QuickStep team. World road race champion bronze medallist Luca Paolini, young Belgian hope Nick Nuyens, Davide Bramati, Wilfried Cretskens and Ivan Santaromita will do what they can to put the Australian in the final yellow jersey.

Current Russian road race champ Serguei Ivanov and 2004 Tour of Flanders victor Steffen Wesemann lead the T-Mobile charge, while a strong CSC squad boasts the likes of Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Michael Blaudzun, Lars Michaelsen and Luke Roberts. Former British champion and GP Plouay winner Jeremy Hunt and 2004 Tour of Britain KOM winner Ben Day front the Mr Bookmaker-Sports Tech team, while another double British champ, Roger Hammond, has been temporarily released by his Discovery Channel team so that he can lead the Great Britain national selection. Hammond finished third in the 2004 Paris-Roubaix and while he was sidelined with injury earlier this year, he has the potential to win the race.

On the subject of British national champions, the current title holder Russell Downing and his brother Dean, plus Olympic track medallists Rob Hayles, Chris Newton and Paul Manning will draw much home encouragement as part of the Recycling.co.uk team. So too promising first year pro Tom Southam, who will line up with Tour de Langkawi champion Ryan Cox and 2004 Tour of Britain stage winner Enrico Degano for Barloworld-Valsir. Kevin Van Impe and Matthew Gilmore are part of the Chocolade Jacques T-Interim team, which last year won the race with Mauricio Ardila, while double FBD Milk Rás champion Ciarán Power and Phil Zajicek are part of a six-man Navigators Insurance squad.

Former top pro Claude Criquielion will impart some of his experience and wisdom to the Landbouwkrediet Colnago team, which includes 2004 Cholet - Pays De Loire winner Bert de Waele. Another continental professional team, Comunidad Valenciana, are also here, while Tour de Langkawi yellow jersey wearer Koji Fukushima and his brother Shinichi lead the Bridgestone Anchor squad. In form Welsh rider Yanto Barker will have the backing of the DFL/Driving Force Logistics team.

The line-up is completed by three national team selections. Giant Asia professionals David McCann and Paul Griffin lead the Ireland charge, while Surrey League Five Day winner Duncan Urquhart and promising under 23 Alex Coutts line up in Scottish colours. Former FBD Milk Rás winner Julian Winn heads the Wales team.

The 2005 Tour of Britain begins on Tuesday with a mainly flat 184.2 kilometre stage from Glasgow to Castle Douglas. Two category two climbs come midway through the following day’s 162.3 kilometre leg from Carlisle to Blackpool, while the real mountains come 24 hours later when the field races the 167.5 kilometres from Leeds to Sheffield. The first category climbs of Holme Moss and Snake Pass should have a big effect on the general classification.

Friday’s fourth stage reverts to flatter roads, with three third cat climbs coming during the 184.2 kilometre stage from Buxton to Nottingham. Top time-trialists such as world champ Michael Rogers have their chance to shine on Saturday with a race against the clock in Birmingham, although the mainly flat 4 kilometre course will hardly lead to big time differences. The race will then conclude on Sunday with a repeat of last year’s exciting London criterium.

Prior to the start tomorrow, some of the riders will have a chance to open their lungs in the Glasgow Grand Prix this evening. The hour long criterium will take place in on a 1 kilometre circuit in George Square, Glasgow, and will see some of the Tour of Britain competitors lining out against the country’s best domestic riders. The race is part of British Cycling’s elite criterium series.