The final start list for The Tour of Britain can be downloaded here.
Mick Bennett, Race Director, Tour of Britain, said "We are proud to have the best field ever assembled for our tenth anniversary of The Tour of Britain. It has grown in stature, it has grown in safety and it has grown in rider and team attendance. I feel very proud to have survived ten years of organising it, along with the great SweetSpot team."
Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma Quick-Step: "I was just out training with two of my team mates and Iljo [Keisse] last rode here in 2005 and he was saying how they don't like cyclists here but I told him how it has changed. We went into Peebles and it was pretty crazy and I think that is exciting. Last year the crowds were unbelievable. Not just where we had the Olympics, but the whole week, even in the bad weather. That's testament not only to how big cycling has come in the country across all disciplines, but for the amount of times this race had been on and what's it become. The standard of the teams that come here is phenomenal.
"I know SweetSpot have won it again and part of that was to grow it into a bigger event. In terms of racing quality, it's as big as some of the bigger category races so I think it should have no problem in the future becoming a bigger category event and having a bigger field."
Talking about Alessandro Petacchi…"The man is a true professional, he trains so hard. He is on super form. It was a big motivation to come here with him and race. I am very excited he is on the team and he is a good guy. Hopefully we will put on a good show this week and get some good results out of it.”
On whether Mark could win The Tour as a sprinter…"It is a very difficult race here. As a pure sprinter, no. With time bonuses, given the right course, there is a year I believe I could win here. This year, there is a time trial, very British – 10mile – which fits right into The Tour of Britain has a race. I know Brad [Wiggins] has come here in good form but we have some good guys that can challenge each day and hopefully we will be there or thereabouts when we get to London next week.”
"We have a great team here, it is quite important now for our team to come here. Omega Pharma had their record sales here in July so it shows the interest in the sport here. Quick-Step, one of their biggest markets is the UK now so it's important for us to be here, that's why we are going to try and do well here.”
The win in Guilford last year…."It was very special because it was the last time I would wear the rainbow jersey. To be able to get the win was very significant. I was unfortunate not to win my first race in the jersey, I was sick, but I won my second race in it so to win my second and last race book-ended quite a spectacular year. I was honoured to be able to finish that off, in front of home crowds. That was superb.”
Ian Stannard, Sky Pro Cycling: How long did it take to recover from the Tour de France…"It was more mentally for me, it took a lot out for me. We held the jersey for a long time. Being my first one I didn't really appreciate how stressful it is. The last few weeks have been a lot better and I have come here for a good race, we've got Brad with us and I am looking forward to it. British fans, British roads, it's going to be good.”
Is this a race that you think you can win one year? "Yes, I would like to think so. I am racing well, we're riding for Brad but I will give it everything.”
"These first two stages are long, it's going to be hard but we've got a team that can do it.”
Alex Dowsett, Movistar: Thoughts on the Time Trial…."It suits both of us [Bradley Wiggins] but it's my bread and butter, it's what I've grown up doing, same goes for Brad.
"I think Brad is the man to beat but I think if there is a situation where he falters then I will be the man snapping on his heels.”
Do you have any GC ambitions? "Yes, I have now!”
"It's tough roads round here, it suits the strong man – you've got three of us sitting right here – if you get the weather tomorrow that is expected then I think that could be one of the big GC days. I don't think it is going to come down to the Time Trial. It will help but this is the hardest Tour of Britain to date. I have looked at last years and that was split to pieces so it is going to be tough.”
Does Nairo Quintana have the faintest idea what he's let himself in for? "It can't be a huge amount harder than what he had in July [Tour de France] but what I've said to the boys is that you get a flat stage in Europe that's average watts 200-230 but the roads here are much harder. It's like riding on carpet as opposed to a velodrome. The roads are harder and wear you down. You do feel it, and the earlier starts are going to shock the Spaniards too.”
Nathan Haas, Garmin Sharp: "The Tour of Britain never fails to impress me. The crowds, the climbs, the crazy roads just create an awesome event. I am still hungry from last years second place overall myself and the Garmin-Sharp team are sending a super motivated squad to make an impression again. This year's team brings good experience and we will make this race fun, at very least."
The Tour of Britain 2013 will run from Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd September.
For details of The Tour of Britain, go to www.thetour.co.uk
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