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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.
Edvald Boasson Hagen extended his lead in the Aviva Tour of Britain, finishing second on Nottingham’s Forest Recreation Ground behind Etixx Quick-Step rider Matteo Trentin, who took his team’s third stage win of the week.
The Italian outsprinted Boasson Hagen in a two-up sprint at the end of the 192-kilometre stage after the Aviva Yellow Jersey had bridged across to him in the final kilometres through Nottingham, going on to describe the stage as the hardest he had ever ridden.
The two riders were just ahead of a chasing bunch of 28 riders, all that remained of the main field at the end of a hard day’s racing, which saw aggressive riding from the start in Stoke-on-Trent.
The sight of a 75 strong grupetto coming home 45-minutes and 47-seconds behind the stage winner – on a 192km stage of less than five hours and featuring no long climbs – would appear to back up Trentin’s claim.
That the Etixx Quick-Step rider had contributed massively to the main break of the day while still having enough energy to outsprint Boasson Hagen was testament to his good form.
“For me and probably 99% of the field that is the hardest race I have ever done,” said Trentin. “It was full gas right from the beginning we never really stopped. You just have to look at the numbers, I was averaging 365 watts for four hours and 45 minutes. That’s tough. In the break we were never more than one minute or so ahead, the race was always on and never slowed. Even when it was flat at the start we had cross winds and then think about riding the climbs in the cross winds
“When Edvald attacked off the front of the group and came up to join me I thought that would be it because somebody was sure to chase the yellow jersey. But when he joined me we looked back and everybody was on the limit. Edvald was riding for the bonifaction and GC so I took a rest in his wheel and went for the stage win. And then I just sprinted as hard as I could.
“That is the mentality of this Etixx team whether even when we have injuries or crashes. We have a winning mentality, we always race for the victory, we are never here to be just part of the race. Sometime it works sometime it doesn’t but we always try.”
The Etixx Quick-Step team have now won three stages of the race, although both previous stage victors – Petr Vakoc and Fernando Gaviria – have dropped out through injury, and were today joined by Mark Cavendish who crashed, causing his abandonment.
With two stages to go, Boasson Hagen now leads by 13-seconds from Wout Poels, with Rasmus Guldhammer third at 43-seconds and Britain’s Owain Doull fourth, one second back and keeping hold of both the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey and Premier Inn Best British Rider Award.
In both the YodelDirect Sprints and SKODA King of the Mountains classifications there was no change with ONE Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams keeping hold of both jerseys, with neither Williams or his nearest challengers collecting any points towards either competition on Stage Six.
Boasson Hagen and Trentin had both been among a leading group of 30-riders that over the course of the stage from Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, through Derbyshire and the Peak District, that chased a lead group of varying different combinations.
Initially a strong eight man group of Trentin, Ian Stannard, Zdenek Stybar, Stefan Kueng, Steven Kruijswijk, Sebastian Langeveld, Tao Geoghegan Hart and last year’s winner Dylan Van Baarle forged ahead, but on heavy rolling roads the race was a constantly changing picture, until a six rider group built a small group.
Kueng and Trentin remained clear coming off the hills and into Nottingham, with the latter taking a slender lead into the final three-kilometres before being joined by Boasson Hagen. The MTN Qhubeka rider jumped across the gap that had been reduced by Sky duo Stannard and Ben Swift, but couldn’t defeat Trentin in the sprint.
“It was a really hard day but I am happy with that result,” said Boasson Hagen afterwards. “I would have happily settled for that before the start of the stage. Sky applied the pressure and eventually the break went and when Stannard came back I had to try and cover the moves and hope for the best.
“Stannard asked me to ride at one stage and that is natural of course but I didn’t want to do that before the final intermediate sprint because I could have lost time there or they could have attacked me there. I wanted to wait as long as possible before I stated to work but it was always my plan to try something about five kiloetres out. I looked over and Wouter seemed to be on his own so I went.
“I didn’t feel my form was that good at the start of the race but it feels like it is getting better every day now. We will see tomorrow for sure. A lot of people are very tired although perhaps the riders in the grupetto are not quite so tired. I need to stay focussed for two more days now and hope that the team have been saving a lot of energy for the long day tomorrow.”
Coming home in third place on Stage Six four seconds back was the in-form Owain Doull of Team WIGGINS who now moves into fourth place overall with power to add in the final two stage.
“I’ve been taking it day by day, it was very hard from the off but I made the selection and was very happy with third place. I’m a bit surprised at my form although I have always targeted this race and the Under-23 Worlds later this month.
“We will be trying to get onto the podium, there are three intermediate sprints tomorrow with a total of nine seconds available so if I could grab a few of those it would be pretty good but I need to keep contesting the finishes as well and try and get it that way as well. We will give it a good go in the next two days.”
For full results and standings please click here.
Stage Seven sees the race return to East Anglia for the first time since 2012, with Norfolk hosting its first stage start, at Fakenham, since 2010. At 227-kilometres riders will face the longest stage of the race to Ipswich, including a YodelDirect Sprint on the runway of Wattisham Airfield, home to the British Army’s Apache helicopters.
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Team Sky’s Elia Viviani sprinted to his second win of the Aviva Tour of Britain, heading to victory at Floors Castle as Juan Jose Lobato moved into the race leader’s Aviva Yellow Jersey.
The Movistar Team rider took second on the road behind Viviani, and moved into the race lead after overnight leader Petr Vakoc crashed with just over three kilometres to go, losing ten minutes.
Having won Stage One in Wrexham on Sunday with no room for celebration, at Kelso the Italian had time to celebrate in style his victory outside the home of the Duke of Roxburghe.
Viviani kept his cool in a complicated finish after the peloton had caught a dangerous three man break consisting of Tyler Farrar, Marcin Bialoblocki and Matt Cronshaw with about five kilometres remaining.
As the peloton headed towards the twisty, fast finish into the grounds of Floors Castle, Lotto Soudal seemed to be dictating proceedings at the head of the bunch with Andre Greipel providing a lead out for Jens Debusschere.
Viviani, who had taken station just behind the Lotto Soudal train, was best positioned to take advantage. He accelerated smoothly and won comfortably, with his arms aloft, from Lobato with Matteo Trentin in third place.
Lobato’s lead at the top of the standings is ten seconds over MTN Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, with Floris Gerts of the BMC Racing Team another two seconds back. Team Sky’s Wout Poels lies fourth, while last year’s winner Dylan Van Baarle is fifth, just 13 seconds off the race lead.
Elia Viviani of Team Sky took his second stage win of the Aviva Tour of Britain on Stage 3. He talks to Chris Maher of CyclingShorts.cc and the assembled press at the finish.
“When the break at the end went out from 2-minutes 30 to 4-minutes 20 I did wonder if we would pull it back for a sprint finish,” admitted Elia Viviani afterwards. “The problem was that we needed to do the last climb very quickly and if we did that I was not sure if I would be able to stay in the first group of not.
“We decided to try and when your teammates work so hard – Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Andy Fenn – in the front you try your very best. Then at the end I saw that Mark Cavendish was not in the group after the crash and Andre Greipel was working for a teammate so thought perhaps it is a good sprint for me, it was a stage I can win.
“Andy Fenn positioned me perfectly and then I had to wait a little bit. After nearly 220-kilometres it is not the same as 170-kilometres, you don’t have the same legs. It was a very good test for the World and the climb at full gas with 20-kilometres to go was also very good.”
The win in the grounds of Floors Castle is Viviani’s second Aviva Tour of Britain victory at a Scottish castle, having also triumphed at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway in 2013.
In addition to becoming the third race leader in three days, Lobato also keeps the Chain Reactions Cycles Points Jersey.
Juan Jose Lobato talks to the media after taking control of the Yellow Jersey in the Aviva Tour of Britain 2015 on stage 3. In addition to becoming the third race leader in three days, Lobato also keeps the Chain Reactions Cycles Points Jersey.
“My main objective is still stage wins, if I keep the yellow jersey that will be a bonus. Our plan has been to race each stage day by day until the hilltop finish on Thursday and then we will have a look at how the GC is. The Tour of Britain is not an easy race to defend the jersey but we will have a better idea of the race by the end of Thursday stage.”
Lobato praised Britain’s Alex Dowsett, who is based in Essex, for the work on his behalf today ensuring he was in a good position to contest the finish but isn’t sure that local knowledge was the factor: “I’m not sure there is that much local advantage to be had with Alex Dowsett – he is from the south of the England, not the North, he doesn’t know these roads!”
Elsewhere there was another promising ride from young Welsh rider Owain Duoll, this time finishing sixth, which also takes him to sixth on the Aviva General Classification. That not only makes him the Premier Inn Best British RIder at present but with Lobato wearing the Aviva Yellow Jersey he also inherits the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey to wear on Stage Four from Edinburgh to Blyth.
Like most of the riders in Team WIGGINS Doull’s main focus is the Team Pursuit on the track at Rio 2016 but he has always shown real class on the road and will be one of the riders to watch in the Under-23 road events in Richmond, Virginia, later this month where he will be contesting both the Road Race and the Time Trial at the World Championship.
Owain Doull chats after stage 3 of the Aviva Tour of Britain. Like most of the riders in Team WIGGINS Doull’s main focus is the Team Pursuit on the track at Rio 2016 but he has always shown real class on the road and will be one of the riders to watch in the Under-23 road events in Richmond, Virginia, later this month where he will be contesting both the Road Race and the Time Trial at the World Championship.
“I didn’t know quite what to expect coming into the race to be honest,” says Doull. “We had done quite a big block of training at altitude in Livigno so I was carrying quite a bit of fatigue and I thought I might be lacking a bit of top end speed.
“It’s been a bit surreal having Sir Bradley pulling on the front for me. It adds a bit of pressure but good pressure I guess. I’ve also been sharing a room with him so I’ve been thrown in at the deep end a bit. It’s a good laugh to be fair. Before this year I didn’t really know Brad so you have to pinch yourself sometimes because he was my hero growing up.
“We exist as team with the Rio team pursuit as our big aim but we do like to get stuck in and its nice in such a high profile race to show what we are all about”
In the YodelDirect Sprint competition Peter Williams leads Pim Ligthart an Aidis Kruopis by one point with the latter enjoying a profitable day having got into the early break, while Tom Stewart also retained his lead in the SKODA King of the Mountain competition. MTN Qhubeka’s Tyler Farrar claimed the Stage Three Rouleur Combativity Award.
For full results, please click here.
Stage Four sees the Aviva Tour of Britain visit Edinburgh for the first time in the history of the modern Tour, starting from Holyrood Park at 10am before heading through East Lothian and the Scottish Borders for the finish at Blyth in Northumberland.