This year’s Tour of Britain breaks a few rules. It has an uphill finish, arguably the Queen Stage, on day one, with the drag up to the Glenshee Ski Centre, finishing with a steep-enough 3km climb.
That might kill the race stone dead on day one, or provoke the need to attack thereafter; it could go either way. And it finishes with another short sharp effort to the Needles on the Isle of Wight.
Along the way between the two points (and making a refreshing foray into Yorkshire), the race serves up its usual mix of nailed-on sprints, and finishes for puncheurs.
The start-list has been stronger in recent years. The upcoming Road World Championships in Australia might have forced a bit of a re-think for some. But those teams and riders who will be pinning a number on and starting the race will see a massive opportunity to pick up a victory on what has grown over recent years to become a race only the very best in the world win.
Here’s my pick of the favourites in the field this year.
One name towers above the rest, in terms of how eagerly we anticipate his ride. For Tom Pidcock, this coming week could be another significant milestone in a career which is plotting so many courses, it’s hard to keep track of where it’s heading. Is it X-Cross, MTB, the Classics, stage wins or GC? Has he ruled out BMX?
The course suits him, the team around him looks strong. He must surely go into the race as favourite, and yet, at senior level he is fully unproven in terms of his GC potential. U-23 victories at Tour Alsace and the Baby Giro suggest that Pidcock can willingly apply himself to the sometimes sterile seeming disciplines of riding GC.
The prolific Belgian is very suited to the Tour of Britain, its wild and wet conditions, its punchy climbs and unrelenting nature.
No longer in the red of Bahrain Victorious, Teuns has joined the Israel-Premier Tech team on a mid-season two and a half year contract. This is his race debut for his new team. His form is good, if not stellar. He was a little muted at the Tour de France, perhaps. But prior to that he had picked up a win at the Tour de Romandie on very ‘Tour of Britain’ terrain, and he won La Flèche Wallonne. All good indications that his form isn’t far off and his class is permanent.
There is a slight question about the strength and relative lack of experience in his team, but he will be motivated to get off to the best possible start with his new team, and to prove to the Belgian national selectors that they have made a mistake in overlooking him for the upcoming World Championships.
The Tour of Britain is among the few week-long stage races that a rider like Teuns can seriously target on GC. But he’s done it before, in Wallonie, Poland and Norway.
Touring from early October. (Sound on).https://t.co/LaURquV5qd pic.twitter.com/99JnQBb2Q9August 30, 2022
The Austrian national champion was in action at the recent Deutschland Tour, in support of the largely unimpressive local hero Emmanuel Buchmann. I couldn’t help but think that this loyalty to the German rider was misplaced, and that Großschartner might have been the man to ride for.
The 28-year-old has won the Tour of Turkey before now, when it was still a WorldTour race, claiming the GC with victory over a still teenage Remco Evenepoel on the snowy climb to Kartepe. But he also sprinted to second place behind his teammate Sam Bennett on a rolling finish.
He is a very versatile proposition, which is what you need to be in this race. Not only that, but his team is arguably the strongest in the race, featuring the likes of fellow GC contender Max Schachmann, Lukas Pöstlberger, the indefatigable Nils Politt and Marco Haller (who recently beat Wout van Aert in the Bemer Cyclassics sprint).
After the season we’ve had, you can’t have a list of favourites without including a Dane. I’ve gone for Anthon Charmig partly because of his nationality, partly because of his form and a lot because of his team.
Races like the Tour of Britain, with a relatively weakened World Tour presence, present a huge opportunity for a team like Uno-X, still smarting from their non-selection at the Tour.
They are extremely ambitious, very well drilled and organised. And in Charmig they have a rider knocking on the door of still greater things. The nature of the climbs in the Tour of Britain will suit him to a tee.
And in 2022, he tasted victory for the first time at the Tour of Oman, where he outsprinted Jan Hirt, and out climbed both Fausto Masnada and Rui Costa to take victory on an uphill finish. He could be very dangerous, if his form is good.
Tom Gloag is signing off for Trinity Racing, and heading to Jumbo-Visma next year. They know a good rider when they see one. Another Londoner (watch out too for Oscar Nilsson-Julien), like Fred Wright and Ethan Hayter, he is decidedly his own man.
Stranded on Gran Canaria when the pandemic hit in 2020, and unable to head home, he flew instead to Colombia where he stayed, aged just 18, for months training with Esteban Chaves. He returned a changed rider.
He’s a climber, though his recent win at the Tour de l’Avenir came in a two-up sprint on a flat/rolling stage. It will be interesting to see how he approaches this year’s race, having raced aggressively, if a little impetuously, in last year’s edition.
Ned Boulting is on tour this Oct/Nov with his one-man stage show Re-Tour de Ned. Tickets are available here