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Top Gear back on Sunday with bike vs electric car and hovercraft challenge in St Petersburg

Richard Hammond seeks to repeat 2008 cycling victory over Jeremy Clarkson and James May

Top Gear returns to BBC Two this Sunday – and the opening episode of the new series will see Richard Hammond back in the saddle as he attempts to show Jeremy Clarkson and James May once again that a bicycle is the quickest way of getting around a city.

Seven years ago, Hammond cycled flat out in a cross-London dash to City Airport to beat both of his co-hosts, with Clarkson second in a speedboat and May, who drove a Mercedes ML 4x4 pushed into fourth place by The Stig, who took public transport.

This time the action switches to Russia’s second city, St Petersburg. Once again, Hammond will be pedalling, this time a road bike with drop handlebars.

Clarkson is in a hovercraft – floating on a cushion of his own hot air, presumably – and May is in a Renault Twizy electric vehicle. The Stig, meanwhile, is on the city’s metro system.

The episode airs on BBC Two at 8pm this Sunday evening, and for the first time the new season will be launched globally on the same day.

If you missed the London challenge when it screened back in 2008, here are YouTube highlights of it.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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