All images ©CyclingShorts.cc / www.chrismaher.co.uk
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.
Route of this September’s edition of Britain’s biggest professional cycle race revealed
- First ever Grand Depart for Wales, with Anglesey to host the start
- First visit for the modern Tour to Edinburgh
- Return of race to Lancashire, Northumberland and East Anglia
- Hartside Fell in Cumbria to host race’s summit finish on Stage Five
- Iconic new London route to include Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus
The 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain has been officially launched in London this evening [Tuesday 17 March], with a route that includes the race’s toughest ever summit finish, a revamped final stage in the heart of London and a first ever Grand Depart for Wales.Other firsts for British Cycling’s premier road cycling event include a stage start in the Scottish capital Edinburgh and two stages taking in Northumberland and the north east of England.Having welcomed the Friends Life Tour of Britain annually since 2010, Wales will play host to the opening stage for the first time in the modern race’s history, with a stage which will take in all six regions of North Wales as it heads from Anglesey to Wrexham. It will also be the first time that the race has started on an island.
Stage Two sees the race return to the heart of Lancashire for the first time since 2010, with Ribble ValleyandPendle playing host to a stagefromClitheroetoColne, which will pass through the ForestofBowlandandDunsop Bridge, the geographic centre of the United Kingdon.Cockermouth in Cumbria will be the start venue for the first of two stages to include Scotland, with Stage Three heading through Carlisle, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders to the finish in the grounds of Floors Castle at Kelso.A second Scottish stage will begin from Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, showcasing some of the city’s iconic landscapes before heading through the Borders and Northumberland to the finish on the coast in Blyth.Stage Five will trace Hadrian’s Wall from Prudhoe in Northumberland into Cumbria and the Lake District before finishingatopHartside Fell in the Pennines. At five-miles long and 1,904-feet high, the climbwillprovide the highest and toughest summit finish in the modern Tour of Britain’s history.Friday 11 September’s stage will join two English cities with the peloton racing from Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, the latter returning to the route for the first time since 2012.The penultimate stage will be the longest of the 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain at 225-kilometres, headingfromFakenham in Norfolk to Ipswich in Suffolk, beforethefinal stage in the centre of London.The London stage presented by Transport for London will feature an entirely new route in 2015, starting and finishing on Regent Street St James and providing an iconic backdrop for Britain’s biggest professional cycle race which will take in Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Whitehall.In total eleven venues will welcome the modern Friends Life Tour of Britain for the first time in 2015.
Commenting on this year’s Friends Life Tour of Britain route, Mick Bennett, Race Director, said;
“Overall we are absolutely delighted with the course for the 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain and believe it offers something for everybody across eight very different stages.
“Our hope and intention is to again encourage eight days of aggressive, uninhibited racing, the sort of action that we hope is becoming the trademark of the race. We want our national Tour to reflect the tough terrain which is part and parcel of our cycling scene in the UK, and to showcase both the race and the British countryside to spectators at the roadside and to the television audience both at home and around the world.”
Commenting on the announcement, Bob Howden, President of British Cycling said;
“At British Cycling, we measure the success of our major events strategy by the number of people who watch and are then inspired to participate in our sport and, as our national stage race and the biggest event of the year, the growing popularity of the Friends Life Tour of Britain is further proof that in this country cycling has never been in better health.
“This year’s route will excite any fan of cycling and further boosts the Friends Life Tour of Britain’s reputation as one of world cycling’s must-watch races, but it will also give people all over Britain a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action and encourage them to get out on their bikes.”
Commenting on the brand new route for the London Stage presented by Transport for London, Ben Plowden, Director of Surface Strategy and Planning at TfL, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome back Britain’s biggest professional cycle race to the streets of the London. With a revamped route touching new areas of the city, I’ve no doubt that this year’s race will inspire a new breed of cyclists, who will soon be able to make use of our new and upgraded cycling infrastructure, including segregated Cycle Superhighways.”
Once again ITV will screen three-hours of live coverage of every stage, starting on ITV for the opening Wales stage before reverting to ITV4 for Stages Two to Eight. ITV4 will also screen a one-hour highlights programme each evening during the race.
UK parcel carrier Yodel will continue to sponsor the intermediate YodelDirect Sprints classification while ŠKODA remain official car suppliers and the King of the Mountains sponsors and Chain Reaction Cycles extend and expand their partnership with the race and sponsorship of the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification.
New partners Premier Inn will partner a trophy for the Best British Rider, alongside their similar award in the Friends Life Women’s Tour, while Italian tyre manufacturer Vittoria have been appointed the Official Tyre & Wheel Partner, providing neutral service via their Servizio Corse brand.
The Friends Life Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step.
The Friends Life Tour of Britain
Re-launched in 2004 after a five year absence from the calendar, the Friends Life Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep. The Friends Life Tour of Britain is the UK’s biggest professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event.
Upgraded to 2.HC level by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, for 2014, the Friends Life Tour of Britain attracts the world’s top cyclists, including Olympic and World Champions and Tour de France stage winners, to compete on British roads each September, with three-hours of live coverage a day on ITV4.
For details of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, go to www.tourofbritain.co.uk