Mark Cavendish, cycling's greatest sprinter of all time, has been confirmed as the first rider for this year’s Tour of Britain.
The Tour organisers have announced that the British cycling legend, who has won more stages of the modern Tour of Britain than any other rider, with 10 Stage victories, will lead his Belgian Deceuninck - Quick-Step team at the UK’s biggest race.
Devon will host Stage Two of the 2021 Tour of Britain on Monday 6 September, starting in the new town of Sherford and finishing in Exeter.
Cavendish has previously started 11 Tours of Britain, finishing nine, and led the race for two days during the 2007 edition. A world champion on both road and track, he equalled Eddy Merckx’s long-standing record of 34 stage victories in the Tour de France and won the race’s prestigious Green Jersey points competition in July.
Mark Cavendish said: “It is always an honour to race on the home roads of the Tour of Britain. It is a race where I have always enjoyed success and I am really looking forward to racing with what I know will be a strong Deceuninck – Quick-Step team. It has already been a special year for me and riding the Tour of Britain will be a great way to see so many of the people that have supported throughout.”
Mick Bennett, Tour of Britain race director, said: “We always pride ourselves on the quality of riders we attract, and the participation of Mark Cavendish in this year’s Tour of Britain will no doubt whet the appetite of the British public. He’s a true great of our sport – something he has proved once again throughout his unforgettable 2021 season – and I cannot wait to see him on the start line in Penzance.”
The 115-mile route of the Devon Stage takes in a number of communities on its way through the South Hams and across Dartmoor, including Ermington, Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Modbury, Ivybridge, Cornwood, Yelverton, Tavistock, Princetown, Moretonhampstead and Dunsford.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “This is fantastic news – Mark Cavendish is always a huge draw for fans of The Tour. He had a remarkable Tour de France earlier this year, and it will be a real treat to see him racing through our county. I’m sure everyone at the Devon Stage will be looking forward to giving him a warm welcome and showing their appreciation for this cycling legend.”
Deceuninck - Quick-Step are the most successful team in modern Tour of Britain history, having won the race twice - courtesy of Nick Nuyens (2005) and Julian Alaphilippe (2018) - and have claimed 22 stage victories since 2004.
The remainder of their six-man squad for the Tour of Britain, as well as those of the other competing teams, will be announced in due course.
This year’s race begins in Cornwall on Sunday 5 September, and the 2021 champion will be crowned in Aberdeen on Sunday 12 September.
Live coverage will be available on ITV4 in the UK, as well as in over 150 countries worldwide.