Tour of Britain 2016 Preview
We saw some fantastic racing last year, let's hope for more this year /

Tour of Britain 2016 Preview

The Tour of Britain kicks-off today with Glasgow playing host to the Grand Depart.

Ollie Haggart

With the Vuelta a Espana still in full flow, and the World Championships around the corner, it would be expected that no 'big names' should feature in the Tour of Britain; however, the recent success of home-grown riders and rise in popularity of the sport as a whole has transformed the race into an important one among fans and riders alike, with an increasing number of recognizable faces taking part this year.

The eight stage race begins this upcoming Sunday, where the wheels will be set rolling at the Grand Depart in Glasgow, before we see the peloton cross the scenic countryside and cityscapes of the Lake District, Wales, Bristol, Bath and eventually London.

Tour of Britain 2016 race route

Glasgow will be the setting for this year's opening stage of the race, with the riders having to travel 168km to reach Castle Douglas at the end of the day. On paper, it should be a group sprint finish, with a flat run-in to the line, but the unpredictable Scottish weather in combination with the series of category three climbs earlier in the day could throw a few favourites out of contention.

Although early on, stage two could be an interesting and pivotal part in determining the overall classification come the end of the race. A gruelling 195km stage from Carlisle to Kendal riddled with two second category climbs and a category one climb towards the end means that the riders will get hardly any flat road to regain their energy. The hilly terrain will likely disperse the peloton, and reveal who is likely to be contending on day eight.

Stage three is a winding one, and again features some testing climbs, with the Cat and the Fiddle - the highest point in the race - being the final test. Although this route between Congleton and Tatton Park in Chesire is a demanding one, the 50km or so following the final ascent to the finish may see those dropped on the climbs regrouping for a sprint finish.

The longest stage comes on day four, as the peloton will have to endure a 217km stage from Denbigh to Builth Wells in Wales. It is unlikely to be a sprinters day, with 4,000m of ascents being faced, with two category five climbs, one category three climb and two category two climbs.

It doesn't get much easier the following stage, either, with a 194.5km day ahead of the riders, as they travel from Wales to the historic city of Bath in Somerset. The involved climbs are not as long as those braved on previous days, but there is still 3,292m of them, including an uphill sprint finish.

Devon will provide a true summit finish for the riders on stage six, with a six-kilometer category one climb ending the day. This mountainous stage will undoubtably be a key part in who secures the yellow jersey two days later.

Bristol hosts penultimate day of action with a split stage. The first part of the stage comes in the morning with a mostly flat 14.2km individual time-trial, whilst the afternoon will see six laps of a 15.1km circuit race around the city of Bristol.

The Tour of Britain 2016's conclusion will see 100km of action hosted in the capital city of London.

​Riders to watch

Team Sky boast an impressive line-up for this race, with Wout Poels being the Super-domestique, backed up by Ben Swift and Ian Stannard. With such a strong team, it is clear that Sky are going for stage victories as well as the potential to challenge for the yellow jersey.

Fresh off his historic Rio Olympics Wiggins will take to the British roads once again / CyclingNews
Fresh off his historic Rio Olympics Wiggins will take to the British roads once again / CyclingNews

Poels Dutch compatriot, Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) is also set to ride in this year's race, and will be a favourite to step on the podium at least once during the race; with an impressive silver medal at the Olympic Games this Summer in the individual time-trials, Dumoulin will be full of confidence, and will hope to add once more to his impressive palmares.

Another, more outstanding success story from the Olympics came from Bradley Wiggins who's gold medal in Rio saw him become the most decorated British olympian of all time - but now, the veteran of the sport will have his mind set on supporting his WIGGINS team-mates in Scott Davies and Alex Knox when called upon, and challenging in the Bristol time-trial.

The bunched sprint finishes will be hottly contested, with another British medalist in Mark Cavendish (Dimension data) going head to head with Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), whilst Rohan Dennis (BMC) could also make an appearance on the podium at some stage of the race.