Britain's top cycling talents have been pitting their wits against their global rivals in recent days in warmer climes, in the distant lands of Qatar and Dubai. Lizzie Armitstead won the road race at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year and demonstrated that her form has not slipped in the months since, by claiming victory at the women's Tour of Qatar. Mark Cavendish had been leading the Dubai Tour after the first two days, but slipped back to second after the penultimate stage when he finished back in 17th place.

Armitstead needed to call on all of her sprinting skills to win the final stage in Qatar, edging out Australian Chloe Hosking at the end of the 85km stage between Sealine Beach Resort and Doha Corniche, and winning the event overall as a result.

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The 26-year-old Yorkshire-woman who rides for the Boels-Dolmans racing team had also beaten her rivals on the third stage, to take the overall lead for the first time in the event, so knew that another victory would ensure she maintained that position. Her overall advantage was stretched to 12 seconds over Hosking by the climax to the competition, as the Aussie finished up as the runner-up overall as well.

For Mark Cavendish in Dubai, the task has become slightly tougher, after he relinquished the overall leader's jersey to John Degenkolb on day three, with one stage remaining. The Isle of Man rider now lies in second position, only four seconds down on the overall leader, so still has an opportunity to clinch the top prize. His German rival took the opportunity to claim the ten-second bonus that was on offer on day three, by sprinting clear on an uphill finish, leaving 'Cav' well in his wake some ten seconds back.

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Earlier in the week, the 'Manx Missile' had won stage one and retained the lead after the second stage. He will fancy his chances of reversing the placings on the final stage, which seems destined to come down to a bunch sprint, which is his forte after several classic wins in a similar fashion in the Tour De France. With 25 individual stage wins behind him in 'Le Tour', his competitors will be well aware of his abilities and attempt to mark him out of the race no doubt. That will mean that his Etixx-Quick Step team mates will need to keep their wits about them to ensure that he gets a good ride out, to allow him the best chance to succeed in the sprint.