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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 joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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