After yesterday’s announcement of the Team Sky line-up for the Aviva Tour of Britain, Brendan Gallagher spoke to the team’s British Champion, Peter Kennaugh.

Peter Kennaugh might be a double British National Road Race Champion, a race he always supports, and a regular face on the British road and track scene but surprisingly this year will be his first Aviva Tour of Britain.
Kennaugh, 26, is part of a powerful and versatile six man squad from Team Sky, taking his place alongside Ben Swift, Andrew Fenn, Ian Stannard, Wout Poels and sprinter Elia Viviani. In such an unpredictable race Sky seem to have most bases covered although it might be a few stages in before they settle on their GC contender. The wise have learned not to plan too far ahead in the Aviva Tour of Britain.

The Manxman though it glad just to be back riding competitively after a testing Tour de France when he battled the onset of illness before abandoning on Stage 15. Kennaugh had arrived at the Tour seemingly in fine fettle after a superb victory in the British Nationals when he finally broke clear from Mark Cavendish on the ninth and final ascent of the famous Michaelgate climb at Lincoln. In a summer not short of spectacular action that race is still one of the highlights. But now for his Aviva Tour of Britain debut.

"It's a funny one. I've been itching to race after a long rest after the Tour and I'm excited to be making my Tour of Britain debut because this is our national stage race," says Kennaugh. "I've watched it on the TV and seen it grow but to be honest I'm pretty uncertain about my form.

"I'm not being cagey, I just don't know where I am at after falling ill at the Tour and taking a good rest. I've been back on the island for a good spell and doing some training with the Tour of Britain as my target so I feel pretty fit and well again and reasonably fresh. But that doesn’t always translate into good form.  

"There is no substitute for racing miles in the legs and from what I've seen the Tour of Britain its ridden pretty full gas right from the start so it’s not as if might get a chance to ease myself back in like you might get on a Grand Tour.

"When I look at the route my gut feeling is that it is the sort of race that should suit me if I was in top form with lots of mixed terrain days, one summit finish and there is no TT but realistically I think I will be riding for Ben Swift who is probably our best bet for GC although you don't rule anybody out really.

"The Tour was disappointing and frustrating on a personal level – we are a really close team and of course I wanted to make my contribution to Chris Froome's campaign and get to Paris like 2013 – but that's life and sport. Not everything works out the way you want it too. It got to the point where I felt so weak there was nothing left in my legs and couldn't go on. It happened to others this year like Tejay Van Garderen and it’s just something you have to deal with.
"I haven't dwelt on it too much, I’ve just concentrated on getting right and recovering but looking back I suppose it’s possible I got ill after playing catch-up and racing and travelling a lot after an early season injury which left me off the bike altogether for three weeks.

"I occasionally get this sacroiliac problem dating back to the Giro in 2012 when I rode the race as a preparation for our London 2012 Team Pursuit squad, laying down the endurance base. It's a really random injury and comes and goes. I can do a seven hour ride and it’s no bother, in fact I can do months on end training and racing like that, but then sometimes it will just catch or click rolling over gently in bed or lifting the shopping out of the car boot. 

"For long periods of time I can forget I have an issue and then it will pull me up sharply. It's just something I need to keep an eye on and manage but this year it meant I had to make up for lost time. Once it felt good again I dived into a busy block of racing – Romandie, California, the Dauphine and the Nationals – and although I was really pleased with my form perhaps I went bit deep and got a little tired with the travelling around."

“Anyway I intend to enjoy myself. I've missed the racing, being with the lads on a daily basis and the structure of the day and the week that racing gives you. If you are a bike racer that's what you want to do. The crowds always seem to be big on the Tour of Britain and I will get to ride in the British champion's jersey for the week so that’s great.” 

You can see the Team Sky line-up for the Aviva Tour of Britain, including former stage winners Ben Swift, Elia Viviani and Wout Poels, below or read the announcement here.  You can find profiles of all 20 teams competing plus download the latest provisional rider list here.