André Greipel and Mark Renshaw lead a strong provisional Team HTC–Columbia line-up for next month’s Tour of Britain.
As well the two sprinters, two former World Time Trial Champions in Michael Rogers and Bert Grabsch will join the Tour, alongside current Italian time trial champion Marco Pinotti and his German equivalent Tony Martin.
Mark Cavendish has already announced his intention to take part in the Vuelta a España, so won’t be joining the Tour.
Having won four stages and the overall 2009 Tour of Britain with the now departed Edvald Boasson Hagen, Team HTC–Columbia will be battling to defend their title against 16 other teams over the race’s eight stages.
Race director Mick Bennett said, “We are delighted that Team HTC–Columbia are sending such a strong team to the race, which clearly speaks volumes about how importantly they regard The Tour of Britain.
“Obviously the team have had tremendous success in Britain in the past, so I am sure they will want to continue that, which means spectators will be in for a treat. I am excited about seeing the likes of André and Mark sprinting for the line in Blackpool come Saturday 11th September, so I encourage people to come down to one of our eight finish venues themselves to see them in action at firsthand.”
Greipel, who has won stages in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, recently took victory in two stages of the Tour of Poland.
So far in 2010, the 27-year-old German has won races in Australia, Portugal, Turkey, Austria and Poland. In addition to individual stage wins, Greipel has also won the Tour Down Under twice, in 2008 and 2010.
Renshaw is better known as Mark Cavendish’s leadout man, but the Australian is also a fine sprinter in his own right, as shown by his stage win at the Tour of Denmark in early August.
Rogers, who won the Tour of California earlier this season as well as finishing on the podium at the Tour de Romandie and Criterium International, will be riding his third Tour of Britain, having finished seventh and fifth in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Grabsch and Pinotti will make their Tour of Britain debuts this year, while Martin has worn the white jersey for Best Young Rider in the Tour de France, and was a key domestique for Boasson Hagen in 2009.
Other teams to announce their line-ups include Dutch outfit Skil–Shimano and Belgian squad Topsport Vlaanderen–Mercator.
Skil–Shimano return to The Tour of Britain for the first time since 2007, and will also field a pair of fast finishers in Kenny Van Hummel and Robert Wagner. Jin Long, Bert De Backer and Dutch duo Roy Curvers and Koen De Kort complete the provisional line-up, with Australian sprinter Mitchell Docker, Steve Houanard and Tom Veelers all named in reserve.
Lining up for Topsport Vlaanderen will be recent Tour of Denmark stage winner Michael Van Staeyen, Tour of Qatar stage winner and second overall Gert Steurs and up-and-coming Belgians Pieter Jacobs, Stijn Joseph and Pieter Vanspeybrouck.
Also included in the preliminary line-up is Kristof Vandewalle, who recently came fourth behind winner and fellow Tour of Britain rider Dan Martin at the prestigious Tre Valli Varesine race in Italy.
Twelve teams have now announced their provisional rider line-ups for The Tour of Britain. These are AN Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team, Endura Racing, Garmin–Transitions Pro Cycling Team, Motorpoint–Marshalls Pasta, Rapha–Condor–Sharp, Sigma Sport–Specialized, Skil–Shimano, Sky Professional Cycling Team, Team HTC–Columbia Team Raleigh, Team Saxo Bank and Topsport Vlaanderen–Mercator.
The Tour begins on Saturday 11 September in Rochdale before moving to Stoke-on-Trent on Sunday 12, Newtown-Swansea on Monday 13, Minehead-Teignmouth on Tuesday 14, Tavistock-Glastonbury on Wednesday 15, King’s Lynn-Great Yarmouth on Thursday 16 and Bury St Edmunds-Colchester on Friday 17, before finishing in London on Saturday 18 September. You’ll find more details on the Tour of Britain website.