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Owain Doull is looking forward to his second Tour of Britain and insists confidence is high in Great Britain’s under 23 squad after an excellent season on the road.
The tenth anniversary edition begins in Peebles, Scotland, on Sunday with the Great Britain squad travelling to Scotland on the back of an encouraging summer in the UCI under 23 Nations’ Cup, which culminated with success at the Tour de l’Avenir.
Second in the general classification for Adam Yates and two stage wins for brother Simon in France helped Great Britain finish second overall in the UCI series behind France and act as a perfect preface to this year’s race around Britain.
“It’s a race you look forward to all year,” British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider Doull said. “I rode it last year so I know what to expect. I think everyone has had a pretty solid year and racing well.
"The first two days are going to be really hard, they’re both long as well. The field this year is phenomenal."
“It’s a big race to keep you focused at the back end of the year, especially as most of us who are riding it are coming out of Avenir and everything is going well so hopefully it will be a good opportunity and we’ll get stuck in.
“It’s almost like a polar opposite to last year, last year was quite hard for everyone so it’s nice that everyone is riding well and riding well as a team and the results are coming. Everyone is really motivated.”
As well as playing a vital role in the Yates brothers’ success, Doull took fourth place in April’s ZLM Tour and the 20-year-old then displayed his progression by winning the points jersey at the An Post Ras in May.
But with eight stages spanning over 1000-kilometres, the presence of five UCI WorldTour teams including Sky, Movistar and Cannondale in addition to Britain’s top domestic teams, the Welshman is conscious that the Tour of Britain will present the team with its biggest test in 2013.
“It’s a real tough edition, it’ll be a bit different from last year as you’ve got a time trial stage as well so that may be a bit of an easier day for some people,” Doull said.
“The first two days are going to be really hard, they’re both long as well. The field this year is phenomenal again so it should make for some good racing.”
Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins will head up Team Sky’s entourage, rising Columbian star Nairo Quintana is included for Movistar while British road champion Mark Cavendish and Giro d’Italia stage winner Alex Dowsett also occupy a start list replete with talent.
Despite a deficit in age and experience, Doull maintains that opportunities will be present for the Great Britain team’s six riders and backed siblings Simon and Adam Yates in particular to shine.
“Simon and Adam have shown how competitive they can be in a big race,” Doull, a national champion on the track, said. “I think the whole team is good enough to do stuff so for us we will be looking to go in the breaks and try to pick up results up on stages.
“I don’t think there’s any reason we should shy away from it, especially with Simon and Adam. They could both probably do a good ride for the GC, obviously there are some big names but never say never.”
On a personal level, stages four and five hold a natural attraction for Doull, taking in his homeland. Wednesday’s stage four descends into Llanberis finish before an entirely Welsh stage on Thursday, arguably the most challenging parcours of this year’s Tour, with four category one climbs including a double ascent of Caerphilly Mountain.
“It’s racing on home roads, roads I know well,” Doull said. “It was pretty special last year going up Caerphilly Mountain so I think it will be just as good this year. Hopefully that’s the stage I can do well and get in the break or something like that.”
The Tour of Britain begins on Sunday 15 September in Peebles, with live blogging throughout every stage on the British Cycling website at www.britishcycling.org.uk/toblive and daily live TV coverage on ITV4.