sport

Wiggins to defend ToB title

Sir Bradley Wiggins will defend his Tour of Britain title next week after being selected to lead Team Sky at the eight-day race.

The 34-year-old claimed his first overall victory at his home tour last year and will now bid to become the first two-time winner of the event since its relaunch in 2004.

He will be joined by two other Englishmen in Team Sky's line-up, with Ian Stannard and Ben Swift offering their support alongside Spain's David Lopez, Austria's Bernhard Eisel and Colombia's Sebastian Henao.

This year's race takes place from Sunday, September 7, to Sunday, September 14, and Wiggins is the latest marquee name to be confirmed to take part, after Giant-Shimano named eight-time Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel in their team on Monday.

Wiggins said: "The Tour of Britain is a special race for me, so to be returning as defending champion is a real honour. It's always been a tough race, but the support we receive from the fans is incredible, and it's our home tour, so I have always enjoyed racing it.

"From the start of the year it has always been a goal of mine to race in the Tour of Britain. The race is growing in stature year on year and it's our chance to go there with a strong team and race in front of home fans to thank them for their support over the season."

Wiggins won the 2013 Tour of Britain by finishing 26 seconds ahead of Switzerland's Martin Elmiger in second place and 1min 03sec in front of fellow Briton Simon Yates in third.

This year's edition will test the riders with a varied route containing two flat stages, one summit finish, one individual time trial and five rolling stages.

Wiggins could find it harder to win than 12 months ago, due to the fact that the individual time trial – his specialist discipline - is only 8.8km, half the length of the time trial in the 2013 edition.

Sunday's opening stage starts and finishes in Liverpool, and will be preceded by Sky Ride Liverpool, which gives riders of all abilities the opportunity to ride through the city centre on a traffic-free route.

Wiggins added: "Cycling is now more popular than ever before in the UK with over a million more people getting out on their bikes.

"This is great for the sport we love and Sky and British Cycling have been at the heart of this transformation, so having a Sky Ride start on the same day as stage one in Liverpool is brilliant. Hopefully it will inspire people to go on Sky Ride in the morning and then cheer us on in the afternoon."