All images ©CyclingShorts.cc / wwwchrismaher.co.uk
Edvald Boasson Hagen of MTN Qhubeka became the first rider to win the modern Aviva Tour of Britain twice when he successfully defended his 13 second lead on the final stage, an 86.8km circuit race around some of central London’s iconic landmarks.
The Norwegian sprinted to fifth on the stage, which was upgraded to fourth when Andre Greipel was relegated for impeding Elia Viviani in the final sprint up Regent Street St James, handing the Italian his third stage win of the week.
Viviani’s victories in Wrexham, Floors Castle and now London also mean he is only the fifth rider to win three stages in one edition of the race, and joins Mark Cavendish as one of only two riders to win Tour of Britain stages in England, Scotland and Wales.
Speaking afterwards he said “After yesterday I saw I had good speed in the legs after a really hard week, so we thought we could win today.
“(Ben) Swifty and Andy (Fenn) put me in a perfect position for the last corner. We saw the road go up and I knew we couldn’t start the sprint too early. When I saw Greipel go I went directly on his left-hand side. He came across a little bit, a little bit and that edged me towards the barriers. I’m disappointed because it is better to win without this. He is a big champion and I’ve never seen him do this before. But we won in London and that is the main thing.”
“This week has been really good with lots of stages over 200 kilometres,” he added. “It has given me a very good base for the worlds and I am really confident. I think the Tour of Britain is the perfect roads for the worlds this year.”
After the stage Greipel insisted the incident was accidental: “I didn’t see Viviani coming. I was just concentrating on my sprint and suddenly he was next to me. The final straight wasn’t that wide, I had to look for space to overtake. Everybody was on the limit on the final corner. I didn’t do anything for purpose that’s for sure. That’s sprinting.”
Boasson Hagen’s fourth place on the day was more than enough to see him win the Aviva Yellow Jersey outright thirteen seconds ahead of Team Sky’s Wout Poels with young British rider Owain Doull capping an outstanding week’s work by moving up to third place overall thanks to a time bonus, the best result of his road career to date.
Doull also claimed the Chain Reaction Cycles Points jersey, having finished in the top ten on all but one stage (the finish at Hartside where he came 11th) and the Premier Inn Best British Rider award.
Boasson Hagen, who won three stages in 2008 and four in 2009, didn’t take a stage victory in 2015, but arguably his overall victory was all the more impressive, having to fight off a determined effort from Team Sky, working for the in-form Poels.
“I am very happy with that win,” said Boasson Hagen who joined MTN Qhubeka at the start of this season from Team Sky. “The object today was simply to defend the jersey and my team did a great job all day. Team WIGGINS took it out very fast at the start looking for the intermediate Sprint and seconds for their rider and it was very hard but then the race settled down a little. I always like to race to win. I had my chances with Sky but perhaps I get more chances with MTN Qhubeka. I think perhaps this year it was harder to win the GC than back in 2009, the course was tougher and Sky were very strong.”
Boasson Hagen now goes onto the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia where he will be riding primarily for Alexander Kristoff although on this form he clearly represents a viable Plan B. Both Greipel and Viviani have also expressed their hopes of taking the title and it could yet be that the Aviva Tour of Britain again acts as ideal build up for the eventual champion, as it did last year with Michel Kwiatkowski.
With a new look circuit hosting 14-laps of racing, the early interest in the final stage centred mainly on Team WIGGINS trying to secure two vital seconds for Doull to move him from fourth place onto the podium in third ahead of Rasmus Guldhammer of Cult Energy Pro Cycling.
For a team consisting of Great Britain’s best team pursuiters that was a pleasing scenario and provided a fine spectacle for a large crowd as Team WIGGINS went to the front half way around the first lap and bossed the race for the first three laps right up to the first intermediate YodelDirect Sprint.
A huge turn on lap three from Sir Bradley Wiggins set Doull up nicely although Russ Downing, riding for Cult Energy did manage to infiltrate the Team WIGGINS train and take the line honours to deny Doull the full three seconds. Doull, however, comfortably collected two seconds for second place to move into third on the road, a position he was able to defend.
After the first sprint an eight man break went up the road which meant Cult had to chase in an attempt to get Guldhammer into the second YodelDirect Sprint. Ultimately it was in vain with the peloton unable to get on terms in time, last year’s overall winner Dylan van Baarle taking both the second and third YodelDirect Sprints, on his way to finishing eighth overall.
Elsewhere Peter Williams of ONE Pro Cycling completed an excellent week’s riding – both individually and in the team context – by taking both the SKODA King of the Mountains title and YodelDirect Sprint jersey, only the third time that feat has ever been achieved in Aviva Tour of Britain history
Williams, from Southport, had cinched the Skoda King of the Mountains title on Saturday when he took maximum points on the final climb of the day up Brantham Hill in Suffolk and started today’s stage seven points up from Conor Dunne in the YodelDirect Sprints classification. With neither rider contesting the first sprint of the day Williams’ lead became unassailable and the celebrations could start.
“It’s a massive achievement for ONE Pro Cycling. This time last year it was just a few conversations and the ball had just started to role so it was a really new team. To come away with two leaders’ jerseys on our Tour debut is a brilliant achievement.
“I feel like I’ve been in good form all year, the setup is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and it helps get the best out of all the riders. It’s a really good environment. Coming into the Tour of Britain we had prepared well and felt ready to come here and do something.”
For full results and standings, please click here.
Andre Greipel sprinted to victory in Ipswich, Suffolk at the end of the Aviva Tour of Britain’s longest stage, a 227-kilometre leg from Fakenham in Norfolk.
The Lotto Soudal rider headed home Team Sky’s double stage winner Elia Viviani and IAM Cycling’s Sondre Holst Enger by the narrowest of margins
The win was Greipel’s fourth Aviva Tour of Britain stage win, adding to the three victories he took in the 2010 edition of the race.
MTN Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen took fifth to maintain his thirteen second lead over Wout Poels and the Aviva Yellow Jersey heading to London and the final stage of the race.
Team WIGGINS’ Owain Doull finished safely sixth to keep his lead in the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, as well as remaining the Premier Inn Best British Rider thanks to his fourth overall. Only a Boasson Hagen stage win in London will deny the Welshman the Chain Reaction Cycles jersey, providing he finishes the stage.
Peter Williams clinched the SKODA King of the Mountains competition, with no climbs on the final stage London circuit, the ONE Pro Cycling rider took maximum points on the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb of the 2015 race at Brantham Hill in Suffolk to win by two points from Madison Genesis’ Tom Stewart.
Williams also maintains a seven point lead in the YodelDirect Sprints competition. Nine points are available on the London Stage presented by TfL, so only An Post Chain Reaction rider Conor Dunne can defeat him.
Starting in damp conditions from Fakenham’s racecourse, the original four man break consisted of Chris Opie, Alistair Slater, Johnny McEvoy and Tom Stewart, before that was reeled in and another all British group of Alex Dowsett, Gabriel Cullaigh and Graham Briggs went away, with the latter going on to win the Rouleur Combativity Award for Stage Seven.
With the battle for the final SKODA King of the Mountains points at Brantham Hill a priority, Madison Genesis worked hard to bring back the break, catching first Dowsett and then the other two escapees.
Williams took the points at the top of the ascent, with both Zdenek Stybar and then Rob Partridge attempting to go clear in the final kilometres.
Lotto Soudal and Team Sky worked hard on the front to set up the sprint for their men Greipel and Viviani, and it looked briefly like the Italian had claimed the victory on the near side, but television replays confirmed it was the German who crossed the line first.
On the Aviva General Classification there was no change at the top, with Boasson Hagen preserving his lead, but fifth placed rider Dylan Teuns, from BMC Racing, did crash out as the race passed through Wattisham Flying Station, which provided a unique home to the day’s final YodelDirect Sprint, flanked by Apache helicopters of the British Army.
For full results and standings from Stage Seven, please click here.
The 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain concludes in central London with Stage Eight from 3.30pm on Sunday 13 September, with a 14-lap circuit race starting and finishing on Regent Street St James, and taking in the sights of Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Regent Street.
Riders will contest three YodelDirect Sprints on the start/finish line on Laps Three, Six and Nine, with the final points and time bonuses of the available.
Highlights of Stage Seven will be on ITV4 at 8pm on Saturday 12 September with a repeat at 09.55am on Sunday 13 September. Highlights of all seven stages so far are also available on demand via the ITV Player.
All images ©CyclingShorts.cc / www.chrismaher.co.uk
Team Sky’s versatile Italian sprinter Elia Viviani timed his late challenge perfectly to inch past big guns Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel to win a nail biting opening stage of the Aviva Tour of Britain in Wrexham.
The sprint is about seconds, you wait a second and you lose.
Victory in Stage One puts Viviani into the race leader’s Aviva Yellow Jersey, with a four second lead, thanks to time bonuses, over Cavendish.
The win is Viviani’s second Aviva Tour of Britain stage win, and also the second occasion that he has won the opening stage of the race, having claimed victory at Drumlanrig Castle in 2013.
On a twisting, technical finish in Wrexham town centre the Etixx Quick-Step team caught the day’s breakaway inside the final two kilometres, setting things up perfectly for Cavendish who started his sprint with some conviction at about 200-metres out.
The big danger at that stage seemed to be old rival Greipel who had tracked Cavendish and opened up his own attack to the right of the road as they swept around the final bend at pace about 100-metres from the finish.
Cavendish had quickly glanced over his right shoulder, saw Greipel’s familiar red shirt and anticipated the German’s attack but at that precise moment Viviani roared through on the blindside to win by scarcely and inch.
The Italian rider wasn’t sure if he had won or not but Cavendish, a veteran of scores of close finishes, knew instantly that he had lost, thumping his handlebar in frustration.
Viviani’s performance was Team Sky’s just reward for an outstanding team performance aimed specifically at giving the Italian a sporting shot against two of the great modern day speed merchants.
After a strong four man break went early in the day it was Sky who took control of the chase with Andy Fenn burying himself for the cause along with timely contributions from his teammates and Etixx Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal.
Elia Viviani of Team Sky wins stage 1 of the Aviva Tour of Britain in a final sprint against Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel. Elia talks to CyclingShorts.cc and the assembled media after the race.
“It was difficult to control the break but we worked all day for that finish,” said Viviani who is already a stage winner at the Giro and Eneco Tour this season. “Andy Fenn did some fantastic work he was so strong today, I think he is in very good condition. Ben Swift also took some perfect decisions, deciding when we work, when to close the gap.
“With 100-metres to go I was thinking it was too late but Greipel came in between the middle of me and Cav. Then Cav went in the middle of the road I saw a little space on the left and I sprinted hard. It was very close. I didn’t know if I had won but when Cav shouted “oh no” that’s when I understood. The sprint is about seconds, you wait a second and you lose.”
Second placed Cavendish, the Premier Inn Best British Rider, was gracious in defeat: “I was I was super nervous actually because the guys who were staying round this way re-conned it yesterday and said it was sketchy. The last sharp left-hander it was a bit technical, the wind was blowing down through the buildings there, in the last straight, and I knew I had to lay off Mark Renshaw. It was going to be uphill, it was going to be a slog, and actually when I kicked off Mark I kicked really well.
“The line was just not coming quick enough. I looked over, could sense Greipel there and I think I sensed too much of Greipel. If I’d kept the left hand shut maybe I would have got it, but I was too concerned with the right and Elia came through on the line. Actually I’m pretty happy. I’m super happy with the team but obviously it’s disappointing not to win.
“This is the best race to prepare for the Worlds; it’s hard, it’s heavy roads, long stages. People come here to prepare for the worlds now. And I just hope Mick and the organisers keep it like this, and don’t make it crazy, stupid hard. I like to race in front of the home fans. And I do like to win but unfortunately that didn’t happen today.”
The sprint drama at the end of the day came after one of the most determined of breaks featuring some familiar names from Britain’s top domestic teams who between them drove it all the way into Wrexham where they were only caught by the charging peloton with just over one kilometre to go.
Kristian House of JLT Condor presented by Mavic, Tom Stewart of Madison Genesis and Peter Williams of ONE Pro Cycling usually manage to leave their imprint on the Aviva Tour of Britain and on this occasion were joined by Conor Dunne of An Post Chain Reaction.
Together they comprised the almost perfect break riding strongly as a quartet for the best part of 170-kilometres from Anglesey, over the Menai Bridge and through Snowdonia and the six counties of North Wales, at one stage running up a nine-minute lead.
The experienced House jumped to jump away on the final climb to take the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey while Dunne mopped up enough sprint points to earn the YodelDirect Sprint jerseys
Kristian House takes the King of the Mountains Jersey at the end of Stage one of the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain. Kristian talks to Chris Maher of CyclingShorts.cc and the assembled press after the stage.
“We worked well and although I couldn’t recall all of the climbs from our recce but I did remember the final one which is why I hit out when I did and took a long one,” says House who won the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey overall in 2012 is riding his tenth Aviva Tour of Britain.
“When the break went back up from a minute to 1-minute 24 with 10km to go for a minute we thought this might actually work – funnily enough we were going through a town called Hope at the time! In my head though it was always going to come back.
“This race has always been important to the domestic teams. Going back to my first start in 2005, it was more important to us than the bigger teams. That’s levelled out now – people look at it is preparation for the worlds. This is our worlds, this and the national championships; we can show on home turf what we’re capable of.”
ONE Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams earned himself the Rouleur Combativity Award for Stage One, while the opening day victory helped Viviani also take the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey.
For full results and standings, please click here.
Stage Two on Monday 7 September sees the race head to the Lancashire hills, racing from Ribble Valley to Pendle over 160-kilometres of undulating roads between Clitheroe and Colne. The stage starts from the centre of Clitheroe at 11:15am, with live coverage on ITV4 from 1pm. You can find a video preview of the Stage Two route here.
Today’s Tour infographic provided by our friends at RoadCyclingUK looks at Andre Greipel’s Lotto Belisol sprint train, it’s one of the most efficient in the business.
Here’s an illustrated breakdown of the power behind Greipel’s throne: the staff behind the German national champion and the brave team-mates who deliver ‘the Gorilla’ to the line.
Mark Cavendish – Boy Racer
This book charts the rise of the fastest sprinter in the world, from his earliest foray into bike racing (BMX) up to his record breaking 2009 Tour de France stage victories.
You get to see the cycling world through his eyes, and his frank and brutal portrayal matches his persona. His honest account pulls no punches, just like his explosive sprinting power. His feisty temperament shines through throughout his writing, giving an entertaining read and insight into the world of professional cycling.
In his younger days, his ‘cocky’ attitude is occasionally interrupted by feelings of self doubt and depression, which surface into binge eating (large packets of crisps and cream cakes being the most sought after) which cause more problems for his Coaches and making him receive jibes of being fat and of not being good enough to ever ride the Tour de France, which is his dream.
But in a strange sort of way this is exactly what he needs to motivate himself forward, he loves proving his critics wrong and takes great delight in doing so, even shunning proven training techniques that have been honed over many years, he works in his own way.
His boisterous nature is set free during his time with the British Academy, especially when, like the other young lads there, he is living away from his parents for the first time. The Coaches and Staff have their hands full containing the parties, late nights and practical jokes and try to get them to take their training seriously enough to not mess around and throw their chances of success away.
He is a self confessed ‘scallywag’ and appears to always be looking for an opportunity for mischief. His talent is recognised early on but the characteristics that make him so good on the bike also cause troubles off the bike, as the years have passed he has matured and calmed down slightly, although he still wears his heart on his sleeve and says what he thinks, and makes no excuses for not being otherwise.
You either love him or hate him, and of course his temperament earns him a few enemies along the way, including Staff, Coaches and other teammates who have aspirations of beating his achievements. The long running friction and rivalry between him and Andre Greipel is described from his viewpoint, but with maturity we are led to believe that it is now confined to racing rivalry only.
The story of these formative years are weaved in between race accounts from the 2008 and 2009 Tours de France, we get a feel of what it must be like to be Mark Cavendish, from the buckling pressure to perform after your teammates have worked so hard for you all day, the thrill and danger of sprinting for the finish line, and to the nightmarish stages in the mountains where it takes all your energy and skill to just stay at the back of the field hoping not be eliminated.
The reader also gains an unglamorous insight into the organisation and ‘behind the scenes’ of daily life during the Tour, and Marks reaction and thoughts to some of the doping scandals that unfortunately seem to appear each year.
Just be aware that his language can be just as strong as his passion for the sport, expletives are used many times on some pages, but this reflects the moments of immense pressure he is under.
I found it to be an enjoyable read and more descriptive than many other books, you get the sense that Mark is talking to you personally, as if this is just a transcript of a relaxed chat, he is trying to get you to understand both his character and his professional life as a cyclist.
Title: Boy Racer
Author: Mark Cavendish
Published by Ebury Press
Available in Hardback, Paperback & eBook
Price: RRP £18.99 (Hardback), RRP £7.99 (Paperback), RRP £7.99 (eBook)