Mark Cavendish tipped to take first stage of Tour of Britain

‘MANX Missile’ Mark Cavendish is being tipped for glory on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain which begins in Ipswich on Sunday (10am).

The first race begins at Neptune Quay and finishes 124 miles later at the Norfolk Showground.

The 2011 Road Race world champion will join fellow star attraction Bradley Wiggins – the four-time Olympic gold medallist – on the starting line and race director Mick Bennett believes Cavendish has the credentials to take the first stage, as well as being an outsider for the overall title.

“To me the Ipswich to Norfolk stage is tailor-made for Mark (Cavendish) and offers the perfect terrain for him, he is an amazing bike rider,” said Bennett.

“Mark is a fantastic sprinter but he is also a very good climber as well, maybe not the high mountains, but I think the course is perfect for the fastest man in the world.

“He has a dedicated, hard-working team around him and I would say that he has to be an outsider for the overall event too.”

After the Ipswich to Norfolk leg, the Tour then moves on to Nottingham, Jedburgh (Scotland), Carlisle, Stoke-on-Trent, Welshpool and finally Reigate and stage eight, which concludes in Guildford next Sunday.

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“The riders will be prepared for this event. Cycling is part of their lifestyle and this is what they do six to seven hours a day, five or six days a week,” said Bennett.

“It is a very important race for as the points they earn will go towards their world ranking and prepare them for the World Championship which begins after the Tour.”

And Bennett has predicted plenty of thrills and spills as 102 of the world’s best cyclists descend on the east of the country, ahead of the 11am Sky Ride which is open to members of the general public.

“There are so many riders in there and the exciting thing is that you only need one crash and you have lost half the field, that’s the joy and excitement of live racing,” said Bennett.

“There will be some exciting racing on stage one as the course goes down the east coast, up to Lowestoft and with the prevailing winds over the Fens.

“Then towards the end of the race, the course becomes narrow and twisty and it is important as a rider to be in the front group at that point. This is where team tactics will come into play.

“The riders will not want to miss out.”