Sir Bradley Wiggins to defend Tour of Britain title

Sir Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins won stage three of last year's race on his way to winning the overall title

Sir Bradley Wiggins says it "is an honour" to be racing in this year's Tour of Britain as defending champion.

The Team Sky rider is looking to be the first to win successive titles since the race was reintroduced in 2004.

He said: "The support from the fans is incredible. It's our home tour so I've always enjoyed racing it. From the start of the year it's been a goal."

Mark Cavendish, who won three stages on last year's race, will be challenged in the sprints by Germany's Marcel Kittel.

Giant-Shimano sprinter Kittel won two of three Tour de France Grand Depart stages held in England in July and four in all, after Cavendish crashed out of the race in Harrogate at the end of stage one.

Manxman Cavendish, who rides for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, made his comeback from the shoulder injuries he suffered in the Tour de France in last week's Tour de Poitou-Charentes, winning two stages.

Tour of Britain winners
2013Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB)2008Geoffrey Lequatre (Fra)
2012Nathan Haas (Aus) *2007Romain Feillu (Fra)
2011Lars Boom (Ned)2006Martin Pedersen (Den)
2010Michael Albasini (Swi)2005Nick Nuyens (Bel)
2009Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)2004Mauricio Ardila (Col)
*Britain's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke had title stripped for doping offence

Fellow Britons Ian Stannard and Ben Swift are also in Sky's six-man squad, while three-time British time trial champion Alex Dowsett is set to be in the Movistar team and Steve Cummings is expected to be part of BMC Racing's challenge.

Sunday's opening stageexternal-link is an eight-lap race around Liverpool city centre. The race then heads from Knowsley to Llandudno before stage three takes the racers south through Wales to Abergavenny.

Four stages in the south and west of England follow before the Tour finishes on Sunday, 14 September with a short individual time trial and an eight-lap race around London.

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