Sports fans from the Watford area will have the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in world cycling in action at close quarters if they make a short journey up the A41 at the end of next week.
Headed by defending champion and former Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and sprinting star Mark Cavendish, the Tour of Britain’s 120-strong field will set off from Liverpool on Sunday en route to London for eight days of racing that will bring them into Hertfordshire on Friday, September 12 when Stage Six ends in Hemel Hempstead.
The provisional start list for the Tour was released by organisers this morning and, as well as Wiggins and Cavendish, the field of 20 teams of six riders is set to include a number of other star names.
Olympic road time trial champion Wiggins’ quest to win the race for a second successive year will be supported by a versatile but strong-looking Team Sky outfit, including British powerhouse Ian Stannard, fast finisher Ben Swift and the popular and very experienced Austrian Bernhard Eisel.
The most successful Tour de France sprinter in history with 25 stage wins to his name, Cavendish is also supported by a strong Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad. Fellow sprinter Mark Renshaw has also been selected, along with rising Polish star Michal Kwiatkowski, who finished 11th overall in this year’s Tour de France, and the winner of this year’s famous one-day classic Paris-Roubaix, Niki Terpstra.
Cavendish is still continuing his competitive recovery from shoulder surgery after crashing out of the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate. Even if is able to operate at his best though, the 29-year-old’s hopes in the sprints are set to be fully tested by the presence in the field of Marcel Kittel.
The German, who will lead Team Giant Shimano, has won eight stages in the past two editions of the world’s greatest cycle race, including the last two finales on the Champs-Elysees and two of the three stages held in England this summer.
The list of big names doesn’t end there as Alex Dowsett and Steve Cummings are among the other leading British riders set to compete, together with French star Sylvain Chavanel and top Irish rider Nicolas Roche.
Stage Six of the Tour of Britain begins in Bath, with the riders due to depart at 10.15am. The route takes the riders through Somerset, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and then into Buckinghamshire, through Princes Risborough, Great Missenden and into Chesham before they reach Hertfordshire with 12.2km of the 205.6km stage remaining.
The field is due to reach Lower Kings Road in Berkhamsted at approximately 3.15pm, based on a race speed of 42km per hour, but the race could reach that point up to 30 minutes earlier if it is a quick stage.
From Berkhamsted, the race will head through Potten End before the stage reaches its climax in Leighton Buzzard Road, Hemel Hempstead, with the stage finish scheduled for approximately 3.30pm.
The stage will be broadcast live on ITV4 from 1pm to 4pm, with highlights on the same channel between 8pm and 9pm that evening.