Organisers say there’s a “strong chance” Chris Froome will ride in next year’s Tour of Britain, which will roll into Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire next September.
Four-time Tour de France winner Froome is an icon of cycling and, while the Englishman is recovering from serious injuries he suffered in a crash ahead of this year’s Criterium du Dauphine, Tour managing director Hugh Roberts thinks there’s “every chance” he’ll be in the north-east come September 13.
It was confirmed yesterday the UK’s biggest cycling race will land in 2020 and 2021, with next year’s final stage taking place in the region.
Roberts – who also tipped sprint superstar Mark Cavendish to be involved – said: “It’s a bit premature but we’re hoping most of the top 15 teams in the world take part.
“That’s what normally happens. We’re not on the world tour – deliberately so, because we like to have four or five British teams, development teams.
“For us it’s really important to have homegrown talent showing how good they are in front of their own spectators.
“There’s a strong chance Chris Froome might ride, but it depends on how he recovers from his recent accident which I’m sure he will.
“There’s every chance he will ride and the Ineos team will ride.
“We’ve got Cavendish now riding for the new Bahrain team – he’s bound to be riding in it.”
There’s a sense the north-east was a natural fit for the Tour of Britain, having hosted a stage of the smaller scale Tour Series in 2017, 2018 and last year.
Roberts says the recent lengthening of the Tour of Britain has allowed it to finally reach Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – the furthest north it’s been.
In 2021, the area will be the starting point for the race – know as the grand depart.
Roberts said: “It seems pretty seamless we find ourselves in this position.
“The Tour Series normally comes after we’ve done a stage of the Tour of Britain, rather than the other way round.
“We weren’t able to take the race as far north as this in the past because we didn’t have the capacity to do so.
“But we’ve added an extra date and in 2021 we’ll have a further extra day all being well.
“From a cycling perspective, Aberdeen’s a cul-de-sac – once we’re here we’ve arrived at the end of the country.”
The chief thinks the decision to bring the Tour to the region is a seal of approval for north-east fans’ response to the Tour Series and also demonstrates the desire of councillors on both local authorities to clear the way.
He said: “Once you get the buy-in of politicians things happen a bit more quickly.”
What kind of stage will be laid out for September 13? It’s not finalised yet, with a drive through of a prospective route planned soon, but Roberts said: “It’ll be a rolling stage with some big climbs in it.
“We’ll have a couple of laps of a 10K circuit in Aberdeen city itself which is good for several reasons.
“The first is the crowd gets to see the racers more than once, because when a race comes in it’s all over pretty quickly.
“We want to give them a second bite of the cherry and it means the council can also put on family events, corporate events and children’s events on a circuit we can close in before the main race rolls in about 2.30pm-3pm.
“There have been numerous examples of children who have been inspired (by seeing elites up close), Bradley Wiggins being one.
“He watched the Tour de France grand depart 30 years ago and became a pro cyclist on the back of that.”