Tour of Britain: Press Conference

Four cycling stars lead by World Champion Cavendish talk to the press ahead of the best Tour of Britain yet

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Jon Tiernan-Locke, World Champion Mark Cavendish, Magnus Backstedt and Ivan Basso were the cycling stars that fronted the Tour of Britain Press Conference. The first thirty minutes were taken up by the national press grilling Mark Cavendish about whether he would leave team Sky and at the end of the conference, the answer seemed to be ‘maybe but that he wants to remain friends with team Sky’.

There were no concrete answers as to where he would go except by confirming what we all know and that for Sky, winning the Yellow jersey will always trump winning stages. Cav’s first words were “at the minute, I don’t know” and that he’s been reading what we all have in the press. “I have read stuff, I know what Rod says, what Dave says, what Bradley says and sources from Sky have said but I haven’t really said anything, and at the minute I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Dave (Brailsford) yet and we’ll do that when he comes here, probably in the next 48 hours.”

“I may not remain with Sky but I need to talk to Sky first before anything really happens. I want the best for British cycling as its grown so much. The biggest thing in cycling is the Yellow jersey in the Tour de France and it would be wrong of me not to want the team I ride for and love, to go and do the biggest thing. But that restricts me as a professional cyclist”.

“I have an ambition to win as many stages as I can in the Tour de France and I would like to be some where that I can do that. I have been happy at Sky, I am happy at Sky racing with guys I have grown up with. I don’t want to compromise Sky winning more and more races and I don’t want Sky to compromise me to do that.”

“The Tour de France is the hardest sporting event in the world, and when you realise you can’t go in with a double pronged attack, it kind of became apparent to me … I was though incredibly proud to be part of that team to win the Yellow jersey with a British rider and in a British team. That was a big big thing in my career. I have two years left on my contract at Sky and we’ll see what Dave says and hopefully find an amicable solution”.

Mark is hoping he’ll be free to leave and there will be no transfer fee.

“The yellow jersey is the biggest thing in cycling and it was the goal a few years ago to win that and it takes some one with the wrong mind-set to step in the way of a team that wants to win that that. I don’t want to do that. They want to go and win that yellow jersey again and why not?

Dave has said they are not really involved in going for the Green jersey or the stage wins which puts me in a position where I am kind of lost so instead of kicking and screaming, I hope we can find an amicable solution that is the best for both parties.

The reason we were there though was to talk about a race that has got bigger and bigger over the last nine years. Race director Mick Bennett had opened the conference by saying it is the best field they have assembled for the race since Sweetspot revived the round Britain event with their own version in 2004.

On the race, Mark Said “It is going to be great to have myself and Brad who has won the Tour de France here in the Tour of Britain. I don’t think there has been a Tour de France winner here at the Tour of Britain and to have Brad and the rainbow jersey in the Tour of Britain, and there are four of us in the team that have completed the Tour this year, the crowds are going to be incredible and the race is always spectacular.”

“The amount it has grown is phenomenal and we’re looking forward to celebrating the growth of cycling in the race.”

“To see the evolution of cycling in this country, makes me proud to be a cyclist and beautiful to see and makes me proud to be a cyclist and to be British. In 2007 we saw probably the greatest Grand Depart (Tour de France) that I remember and I don’t think there has been a circuit with so many people like there was at the Olympic road race with a million people.”

“We have stages in the Tour of Britain all-round the country, starting in Suffolk and finishing in Surrey and I think we’ll see a lot of people out watching the race and understanding what this cycling malarkey is about.”

Jon Tiernan-Locke meanwhile was also asked who he was riding for in 2013 and while we know its WorldTour, and everyone knows he trained with Team Sky earlier in the year, Jon too said he couldn’t reveal who the team would be right now adding “it will be a big step up for me.”

On the Tour of Britain, and asked if he could be the first British winner overall, Jon replied, “Could be (laughter in the conference)! A stage in my neck of the words and a tough stage as well and I’ll be looking at winning the GC with a good team around me and why not?”

“The last four days, the back end of the race, looks very hard and it suits me and I have a good team around me and I’m more confident. I’ll be happy to take it on …” See Jon’s exclusive interview with VeloUK here.

Magnus Backstedt: “For us it is a great that we have got the opportunity to ride the Tour of Britain. It is the biggest event we have done so far and we have been striving for two years and building towards this point. With the success we have had in the Tour Series this year and the recent few weeks where the team has taken on a completely different mentally. We’re really excited to be part of this. We just want to go out there and show what we can do.”

“We have riders who can turn a few heads and maybe upset a few people on the road. With more WorldTour teams here, the race should be more controlled and that will be easier if a few work together. But with teams having only six riders, it generally invites some very attacking riding which from our side, that is fantastic as it’s the way we like to ride.”

“Hopefully we’ll get into breaks that stay away and get some good finishes. I think the overall is also in our minds the whole time and we’ll be keeping an eye on the GC with the likes of Yanto Barker and maybe Niklas Gustavsson and Christofer Stevenson.”

“To start off, it’s about getting out there and picking off the first few days, take any opportunities on offer and go from there. In the past there, has always been that one big move that has gone away and got a significant amount of time over the peloton and those 20 or 25 riders have the GC to themselves after that. So we need to make sure if that goes, we don’t miss it.”

“The back end of this race is absolutely brutal but the most important thing is for us to take it one day at a time, race as hard as we can, take any opportunities that come up and put eight one day races together and see what we come up with.”

Ivan Basso “This is the first time at the race for me and I am really excited to be at this race. I have been really impressed what we have seen from Italy that cycling in Great Britain in the last three years has really grown, from the riders and team like Sky and Bradley and from the people (public) too.”

“I think all the world needs to learn about British cycling at the moment. I don’t know exactly what I can achieve here as it is the first time I have ridden this course but it is right that I do my best. I have not yet seen the information on all the stages. I have to race from the front and see how I go in the key stages but I don’t do the sprints with Cav for sure (cue laughter!)”.


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