Geraint Thomas eyes Tour of Britain push

Geraint Thomas
Thomas signed a new three-year contract with Team Sky in July

Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas says he can challenge for victory in the Tour of Britain, which begins on Sunday.

The eight-stage race starts in Peebles on the Scottish Borders and concludes in London on Sunday, 18 September.

"I'd love to go for it - but a lot can happen," said Thomas, who finished 31st in this year's Tour de France.

"I have taken part in the Tour of Britain for a number of years and I feel I'm in the position now where I can go for the win."

Thomas, who Olympic gold in the team pursuit in Beijing in 2008, added: "It's great to race at home as we don't get many chances.

"It's only the nationals and the track in Manchester where we get to race in the UK. It is something we all look forward to and we're looking forward to racing hard and getting involved.

"And on the pro scene the Tour of Britain is getting bigger and getting a lot more respect. It's seen as a really good race among the riders."

Thomas is joined in the field by Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish following his withdrawal from the Vuelta a Espana.

"The thing with the Tour of Britain is that usually there's one day with a big break and I need to make sure I get in that battle against Mark," said Thomas.

Manxman Cavendish, 26, is able to line up in the 1,250-km race after Tour officials gave him special dispensation to ride for the HTC Highroad team after pulling out of the Vuelta.

International Cycling Union rules state that anyone who pulls out of one race is unable to compete in another, while the first race is ongoing and the Vuelta overlaps with the Tour of Britain by one day.

Cavendish has won 20 stages of the Tour de France, including five this year, but last competed in its British equivalent in 2007 when he won the two opening stages.

Race director Mick Bennett said: "We are very pleased that Mark has been given permission by the Vuelta organisers to start the Tour of Britain, and he will be able to race in front of home crowds for potentially the final time before the 2012 London Olympics.

"I am sure the spectacle of Mark, Geraint, Thor Hushovd, Ben Swift and others going head-to-head at stage finishes will draw huge crowds to the roadside."

Swiss rider Michael Albasini, a team-mate of Cavendish, won the overall title last year but is racing in the Vuelta this time.