British cycling star Geraint Thomas admits he cannot wait to hit the road in front of home crowds after being confirmed as riding in the Tour of Britain.
The Team Sky star, a double Olympic gold medallist, is the biggest name so far confirmed as taking part in the stage race next week, which includes a Nottinghamshire stage from Mansfield to Newark.
The 31-year-old Welshman is recovering from injury after being forced to withdraw from last month’s Tour de France – a race he led in the early days – after suffering a broken collarbone in a crash on stage nine.
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He said: “It’s always great to be able to race in front of home fans, so I’m really looking forward to the Tour of Britain.
“I haven’t had the chance to race at home much in recent years, but the atmosphere at London 2012, then at the home stages of the Tour de France and Commonwealth Games in 2014, has always stayed with me.
“The support from British fans is always fantastic when we race abroad.
“There aren’t many races now where I don’t see the flag at the side of the road and it just gives you such a boost.”
Team Sky has also confirmed fellow Welsh Olympic gold medallist Owain Doull – winner of the points classification as he finished third at the 2015 Tour of Britain – and Poland’s former road race world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will be part of their six-strong team.
Completing the Team Sky line up are former world time trial champion Vasil Kiryienka, Italian Ella Viviani, who pipped Mark Cavendish to omnium gold at the Rio Olympics last year, and young Brit Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Owain said: “This will be my fifth time racing the Tour of Britain and my first time racing with Team Sky, so it will be an even bigger event for me.
“The crowds just seem to get bigger every year, so it’s a race I really look forward to.”
The Tour of Britain will feature 20 of the world’s top teams, including 13 squads that have ridden in one of the two Grand Tours so far in 2017, with BMC Racing and Movistar among those set to line up alongside Team Sky.
In total, 10 UCI World Tour teams will be on the startline in Edinburgh on Sunday, September 3, including all of the current top five ranked teams.
Competing against them will be a quartet of domestic UCI Continental teams – BIKE Channel Canyon, JLT Condor, Madison Genesis and ONE Pro Cycling – plus a Great Britain national team.
Four-time British National Time Trial Champion Alex Dowsett will return to this year’s Tour of Britain, leading the Movistar Team in the eight-day race.
And the 28-year-old will start the race as one of the favourites thanks to stage five, a 10-mile individual time trial on his home roads in Essex.
Alex said: “I’m very excited to be returning to the Tour of Britain again.
“This year’s route looks pretty good for me and unsurprisingly I’m very excited for a 10 in Essex.
“Movistar will be a force to be reckoned with again this year I’m sure.”
Alex has ridden the race on six previous occasions, winning an individual time trial in London in 2011 and snatching the race lead in Hemel Hempstead in 2014.
Team Katusha will be led by German time trial specialist Tony Martin, a multi-stage winner at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, while the line-up also includes Norwegian sprint star Alexander Kristoff.
For the latest rider news, see www.tourofbritain.co.uk/teams/