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World Omnium Champion Fernando Gaviria claimed one of the best wins of his career to date, sprinting to victory in Blyth, Northumberland, showing an extraordinary turn of speed to beat Andre Greipel and Edvald Boasson Hagen at the end of a long, 217-kilometre stage from Edinburgh.
Gaviria, just 21, was expertly guided into pole positon by the Etixx Quick-Step team with Zdenek Stybar acting as pilot and Mark Cavendish as sweeper before he moved decisively to the right of the road and taking off with a blistering turn of speed reminiscent of Cavendish at his best, offering up a low crouching profile to reduce the drag.
It was a classy and comprehensive win in Northumberland, earning a congratulatory handshake from Greipel and a raised fist of triumph from teammate Cavendish as he crossed the line.
The victory was Etixx Quick-Step’s second so far of the Aviva Tour of Britain, and came on the day that their Stage Two winner Petr Vakoc retired from the race as a result of the crash that cost him the Aviva Yellow Jersey at Floors Castle.
It was a textbook ride by the Etixx Quick-Step team who rode aggressively to put the dangerous Matteo Trentin in the break for them, which meant that the team could then rely on the Movistar Team and Team Sky to make most of the going chasing before coming to the fore at the end. Trentin’s reward was the Crockwell Bishop cheese from Rouleur as Combativity Award winner for Stage Four from Edinburgh to Blyth.
Fernando Gaviria speaks after his epic stage win. Gaviria, just 21, was expertly guided into pole positon by the Etixx Quick-Step team with Zdenek Stybar acting as pilot and Mark Cavendish as sweeper before he moved decisively to the right of the road and taking off with a blistering turn of speed reminiscent of Cavendish at his best, offering up a low crouching profile to reduce the drag.
“It was a victory for the team, Mark put me in a very good positon and I just went for it,” said Gaviria from Le Ceja near Medellin. “My mentality is always to go for the win.
“I have been very surprised by the crowds, they have been very big, back on Colombia these days you don’t get such big crowds as this anymore for cycling so it was great to race in front of so many fans. The countryside was good but it was the first time I have seen a windfarm, I did wonder what that was when we rode past one.”
Gaviria’s stage win was the first for a Colombian rider since Mauricio Ardila’s victory at Celtic Manor in the inaugural edition of the modern Tour of Britain in 2004.
A considerable career awaits for a rider that his DS Brian Holm described yesterday as a cross between Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish.
High praise indeed for Gaviria who looked pleased at the compliment. “They are great riders and champions and I have always dreamed to be a rider like hem so I am very happy to be compared with them.”
At the top of the Aviva General Classification Movistar’s Juan Jose Lobato stayed in the Aviva Yellow Jersey, although with a lead trimmed to six seconds thanks to the bonus seconds for Boasson Hagen’s third place.
The Spaniard did though lose the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, which switches to the shoulders of Team WIGGINS’ Owain Doull, also the Premier Inn Best British Rider.
After a spectacular opening few kilometres through the heart of Edinburgh, including the Royal Mile, a strong six rider break including Alan Marangoni, Danilo Wyss, Michael Svendgaard, Rob Partridge and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, plus Trentin, who started the day just 18-seconds back from Lobato, resulting in the Movistar Team led by former World Hour record holder Alex Dowsett to be pressed into immediate service to ride hard in the service of their Aviva Yellow Jersey.
With the Movistar Team keeping the break pegged at four minutes, the sprint trains of Sky and Lotto Soudal took over responsibility for the chase, working hard to reduce the deficit as they passed through thousands of spectators in the towns of Coldstream, Wooler and Alnwick among others.
In the SKODA King of the Mountains competition there was no change with Tom Stewart of Madison Genesis still leading on 25 points, two ahead of Ian Bibby of NFTO and Kristian House of JLT Condor presented by Mavic. Nor was there any change in the YodelDirect Sprints with Peter Williams of ONE Pro Cycling still one point ahead of Pim Ligthart of Lotto Soudal and Aidis Kruopis of An Post Chain Reaction.
The race resumes in Northumberland tomorrow, Thursday 10 September, with Stage Five starting from Prudhoe at 11:15 and taking in Hadrian’s Wall, before crossing into Cumbria and skirting Ullswater in the Lake District National Park. The stage concludes with the summit finish of Hartside, an eight-kilometre climb above Penrith, averaging just over 5%.
Highlights of Stage Four from Edinburgh to Blyth will be shown on ITV4 at 8pm, with a repeat on the same channel at 10.55am on Thursday 10 September. The programme will also be available via ITV’s catch-up service for 30-days.