Commentator Hugh Porter hails ‘phenomenal’ Tour of Britain line-up
LEGENDARY broadcaster and former professional cyclist Hugh Porter has lauded the “phenomenal” line-up that is set to set off from Ipswich at the Tour of Britain tomorrow.
The 72-year-old, three-time winner of the UK National individual pursuit will oversee the action for ITV 4 as a list of stellar names, such as Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins and current world champion, Mark Cavendish take to the roads of Suffolk and Norfolk.
Stage one of the race is due to start at Neptune Quay in Ipswich at 10am and is expected to finish in exciting fashion some 120 miles later at the Norfolk Showground, with the likes of world stars Ivan Basso and Samuel Sanchez also expected to be in contention.
“The organisers of the Tour of Britain have done a fantastic job and the line-up is phenomenal,” said Porter.
“In the race will be the current Tour de France champion, Bradley Wiggins and World Road champion, Mark Cavendish, both of whom are British.
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“In addition to that you have got the winner of the ‘Best Young Rider award’ from the 2002 Tour de France, Ivan Basso, and Samuel Sanchez, the winner of the road race at the 2008 Olympics.
“I am in a privileged position to be able to describe the action and commentate of the ultimate athletes in the sport and, as an ex-professional, I can offer some assistance to the viewer too.
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“As for the spectator, those at the event are going to see the biggest field ever and it’s all free.”
Cavendish – a winner of 23 Tour de France stages – has already been tipped by race director Mick Bennett to win the Ipswich to Norfolk stage and Porter believes the superstar from the Isle of Man has a real chance of taking the leader’s jersey after stage one.
However, the broadcaster feels Cavendish may have a tougher task winning the overall competition.
“I think the first stage is ideal for Mark and we will see why he is the fastest man in the world,” said Porter.
“Obviously there are some other contenders, including America’s Tyler Farrar, and Mark’s team at Team Sky will have to look after him, but he is the best sprinter in the world.
“Overall, you never quite know how it is going to pan out but Team Sky will be real contenders as they have a really strong squad.
“There has not been a British winner of the overall race in the nine years since the Tour of Britain was re-launched so maybe this could be Britain’s year.
“Cavendish has just won a stage in the Tour of Denmark and I believe (Bradley) Wiggins has just won a derny criterium in Belgium.
“It will be interesting to see how they both perform, especially Bradley, has he will have had a lot of other commitments and functions to attend since the Olympics.
“But make no mistake, Mark and Bradley be there to win the race.”
Race director Bennett also predicted “scary” numbers to turn up for the event which is likely to raced in glorious sunshine.
With the popularity of the sport hitting new heights too, partly down to Wiggins’ and Cavendish’s recent heroics, Porter agrees that this year’s race could be one of the biggest yet.
“At the moment cycling is receiving unprecedented coverage and more and more people are becoming hooked on the sport,” explained the veteran commentator.
“We are seeing true megastars, they will be there tomorrow, and the public are empathising with the sport a lot more and are enjoying the exploits of some household names.
Tour of Britain stage one highlights: ITV 4 tomorrow (Live 1.45pm), highlights (8pm).
Tour of Britain Sky Ride (11-3pm), Neptune Quay.