Britain’s Mark Cavendish is part of a group of top riders who will contest the AJ Bell Tour of Britain from Sunday – but there’s one rider in particular he will be keen to beat.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, 36, equalled the great Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins in July, following a startling return to form after years without victory on the sport’s biggest stage.
But Cavendish will be up against the man who denied him the Hollywood ending of taking a record-breaking 35th Tour victory on the Champ-Elysees in Paris.
Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma is one of the world’s best young riders and won three stages during this year’s Tour de France.
The 26-year-old Belgian is capable of winning in any discipline in the sport and is one of the favourites for victory in this year’s Tour of Britain which gets under way with a 181km stage from Penzance to Bodmin – alongside Cavendish’s team-mate Julian Alaphilippe, the current world road race champion.
Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett said: “We always pride ourselves on the quality of riders we attract and Mark Cavendish is a true great of our sport.”
Cavendish added: “It has already been a special year for me and riding the Tour of Britain will be a great way to see so many of the people who have supported me throughout.”
Other top riders include Britons Alex Dowsett for Israel Start-Up Nation and Ethan Hayter of Ineos Grenadiers, Spain’s Marc Soler of Movistar, Italy’s top sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo of Qhubeka-NextHash, and his team-mate Nic Dlamini – the first black South African to compete at the Tour de France.
This year’s race begins in Cornwall on 5 September and includes a team time trial in Carmarthenshire (stage three), a hill-top finish on the Great Orme, Llandudno (stage four) and a first-ever finish in Edinburgh (stage seven).
The 2021 champion will be crowned in Aberdeen on Sunday, 12 September.
Tour of Britain stages
Stage one: 5 September, Penzance to Bodmin
Stage two: 6 September, Sherford to Exeter
Stage three: 7 September, Llandeilo to National Botanic Garden of Wales
Stage four: 8 September, Aberaeron to Great Orme, Llandudno
Stage five: 9 September, Alderley Park to Warrington
Stage six: 10 September, Carlisle to Gateshead
Stage seven: 11 September, Hawick to Edinburgh
Stage eight: 12 September, Stonehaven to Aberdeen