The Tour of Britain this year has been livened up by a great field including the British duo of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome for Team Sky. Whilst the roads are much more difficult than they look on television, two stages ought to decide this race – the double header of stage five and six, with an uphill team time trial on the first day and then a summit finish afterwards.
The uphill team time trial could potentially see big gap so a strong team will be crucial and this tilts the balance in favour of Team Sky and Lotto-NL Jumbo. There are no prices yet, but Primoz Roglic shone brilliantly through the Tour de France and has decided to bypass the World Championship Time Trial to focus on the road stage.
That’s a signal of intent and if he doesn’t lose too much time in the uphill time trial then he can more than match Thomas and Froome on the summit finish of Whinlatter Pass, giving himself every single chance of taking yet another stage race success.
The last climb of Belmont Hill will be crucial, cresting just 8 kilometres from the finish. That could be enough to eject sprinters if raced hard enough whilst there will be counter attacks from the peloton after what has been a lumpy stage, so a reduced bunch sprint could be the most likely option here.
Expect a harder day in the saddle and an even more reduced group at the finish line given the amount of climbing and descending before the run into Barnstaple. There’s a flat finish and run in, but the climb of Challacombe is steep and narrow enough to put plenty into trouble so this will be a hard day for all.
The tour returns to Bristol after a four year absence with a short and sharp 125km blast that is solely around the City. The terrain is very rolling from the star with a Criterium style feel, and the climb of Ashton Hill is sure to be an ideal late Launchpad.
Cheddar Gorge is the big climb of the day, although its position does not make it the most important. In 2014 Michal Kwiatkowski won stage four to take the race lead when he beat Albert Timer and Dylan Teuns, and a fast finisher who can carry themselves over the late climb will be in with a big chance.
Probably the most uncomplicated stage of the race despite the three climbs of Ilmington, Edge Hill, and Burton Dassett through the Cotswolds and this should end up being a big sprint in Leamington Spa.
The most fascinating stage of the race and perhaps the most important for cycling betting fans. You’ve heard of team time trials and mountainous time trial but the Tour of Britain is combining both elements to bring an uphill team time trial. Starting in Cockermouth, the teams will take on seven kilometres of rolling terrain before then taking on Whinlatter Pass, a climb that hits 20% in places. This will be a vital change to the overall standings and a strong team in climbing terms is worth its weight in gold.
Team Sky can expect to be at the forefront here but look for a big showing from Lotto NL-Jumbo and also Movistar too, in a race where many teams have brought squads that are built for power.
The second of two stages that might well decide the race in a double header as the riders take on Whinlatter Pass again, this time with a summit finish after a stage that includes one other ascent. The tour is most likely to be won here.
Another sprint stage and the race’s longest stage, with the riders heading towards Mansfield from West Bridgford with a rolling terrain through the day but no significant climbs of note.
The traditional closer, the London stage with 14 laps of the City that come to 77 kilometres. The race’s winner will have been decided by now ahead of the ceremonial final stage.