Matthias Brandle takes solo win in Exeter in Tour of Britain

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Andreas Stauff leads the way on Haytor

Matthias Brandle of the IAM Cycling team held on for victory in Exeter, attacking his breakaway companions on the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb to take the win in front of packed crowds in the city centre.

The Austrian rider was part of the day’s four strong escape group, and with the peloton bearing down on them as they approached the SKODA King of the Mountains climb of Stoke Hill on the outskirts, Brandle attacked to distance his companions.

Shane Archbold and Maarten Wynants valiantly held off the peloton on the fast descent into Exeter to finish second and third, eight seconds down on Brandle, with Sonny Colbrelli leading in what remained of the peloton a further six seconds down.

Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski came in seventh, safely in the lead pack to retain the Friends Life Yellow Jersey for the second day, with no major changes to the Friends Life General Classification behind him.

The Pole also keeps the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, with Sky’s Ben Swift narrowing the deficit to just three points.  Elsewhere Sebastian Lander of BMC Racing retained the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey, while Mark McNally extended his lead in the SKODA King of the Mountains Jersey, picking up points behind the break on both the Mamhead and Haytor climbs.

The break on Dartmoor

The break on Dartmoor

“We had to chase yesterday, because it is my job I had to go really deep to chase the breakaway back,”said Matthias Brandle speaking afterwards

“Today I got in the breakaway and thought maybe it was possible for a stage win, that’s what I tried to do. And finally its happens.

“No one really believed, but then they give us a little bit more and then we chatted some more and now we go full speed ,we started to try and then it was 2’30- 2’40 and it was impossible for them to get us back.

“Finally we really worked well together and it was me who could take the win I had the best legs on the last climb, I tried to push as hard as I could, I managed to break them down and so it was a really nice victory for me but also to win a stage at the Tour of Britain, they are really good guys here and I’m really happy that I could take the win for my team.”

The four rider break of Andreas Stauff (MTN Qhubeka), Shane Archbold (An Post Chain Reaction), Maarten Wynants (Belkin Pro Cycling) and Brandle went within the first few miles of racing from Exmouth, striking out on a venture which would see the latter three never reigned in.

With a maximum lead of just over three minutes, Omega Pharma Quick-Step were content to slowly reel them in, before a large effort by Garmin Sharp brought the lead tumbling down.

On the climb of Stoke Hill it was enough to provoke fireworks from the peloton, with several riders striking out but none being able to bridge the gap to Wynants and Archbold, who continued to chase Brandle all the way to the finish line.

The day’s Rouleur Combativity Award was added to the stage victory for Brandle, while IAM Cycling also celebrated further success by moving into the lead of the Friends Life Team Classification, a closely fought affair with the top four teams – IAM, Tinkoff Saxo, Movistar Team and Team Sky – separated by just 30 seconds.

Sebastian Lander & Michal Kwiatkowski

Sebastian Lander & Michal Kwiatkowski

Speaking afterwards, Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski said;

“We were trying to control that gap to around three minutes, we knew that Brandle had three minutes in the GC so was not a dangerous break away for us. We knew that if someone from another team wants to win the stage they have to take control and chase down the brea away, Garmin did it and I am really thankful to my team mates today they put me out of pressure. Out of the four stages so far this was the first one that I could really relax, it of course was tough, hard with the one kilometre climb and the fast decent into the finish.”

Friday morning sees the modern Friends Life Tour of Britain make its debut in Bath, as the historic city hosts the start of Stage Six to Hemel Hempstead, taking in over 200 kilometres of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, including three testing SKODA King of the Mountains climbs in the Chiltern Hills.

Highlights of Stage Five are on ITV4 at 2000 on Thursday 11 September, with live coverage resuming from 1300 on Friday on ITV4, for Stage Six from Bath to Hemel Hempstead.  Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport’s live coverage, can be foundhere.

For full Stage Five results, click here.

Blythe wins battle of the Brits at RideLondon-Surrrey Classic

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Adam Blythe won a battle of the Brits to win the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic in central London today beating his old friend and sparring partner Ben Swift in a dramatic sprint finish on The Mall.
The two Sheffield-born cyclists were part of a five-strong group that screamed up Whitehall and under Admiralty Arch after 200 kilometres of hard racing over the wet and muddy roads of the Surrey Hills.
Team Cannondale’s Slovenian rider Kristijan Koren led them up The Mall with the finish line and Buckingham Palace in the distance. But Blythe launched his attack with 50 metres to go, surprising Swift, Team Sky’s pre-race favourite, to take a hard-earned victory for the unfancied NFTO Procycling team.
Blythe threw his arms in the air as he crossed the line, a roar of triumph breaking out from his mud-spattered face.
“It’s hard to say how much this means to me,” said Blythe afterwards. “But you could see how emotional it was as my face said it all.”
“OK, it’s not like I won the worlds or anything, but this is very big race for a British rider to win, especially in this setting in front of the Queen’s house. I hope she was watching.”
Swift was one the race favourites and appeared to be in a perfect position to show his famed finishing speed after five Sky teammates, including 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, had worked hard in the middle part of the race to get him into a breakaway group.
“It would have been nice to have won but I am really happy with second,” said Swift. “I’ve known Adam since I was seven years old and we’ve got a lot of history, so I knew he was the one to watch.”
“I knew I needed to keep an eye on him and I could see he was looking for me on the run-in. I tried to react to his move but he’s a really fast sprinter and once he got the jump on me he was away.”
Koren’s challenge faded as the two Britons raced away and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe took third for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step ahead of Philippe Gilbert, Belgium’s former world champion from the BMC Racing Team.
Seventy kilometres earlier it was Gilbert who had made the decisive move of the race on the approach to Box Hill.
There had been a number of early attacks from the 147-man field as the riders set off under the welcome warming sun, which had moved in to replace the morning deluge.
The first significant break came in Richmond Park after 13km when six riders got away and established a gap of just over a minute, an advantage they held through the early stretches out into Surrey’s narrow country roads, many of them still smeared with rain wash.

Wiggins and teammate Ian Stannard did much of the work as Sky took control of the peloton, their intention to close the gap and get Swift into contention for any later break. The plan worked perfectly, and when Gilbert made his move, Swift was one of 10 men who leapt to his wheel.

As Sky stepped off the gas, Cannondale were forced to do the bulk of the work at the front of the chasing group as they tried to get their sprinter Elia Viviani back in touch. But with less 50km to go the leading 11 had stretched their gap to more than a minute and it began to look as if they would never be caught.
They charged down Headley Heath and into Leatherhead, Gilbert and Swift keeping the pressure on at the front. Then Gilbert attacked again between Raynes Park and Wimbledon, splitting the group and dragging five clear of the rest.
The Belgian appeared to be on a mission to win with a long run for home and another kick briefly took him and Alaphilippe away from Swift and Blythe with Koren in tow behind.
But the trio closed the gap by the time they reached Putney High Street and it was five riders who crossed Putney Bridge for the run alongside the River Thames towards Westminster.
At this point it looked like anyone’s race, though the smart money was on Swift. Blythe had other ideas, however, and he timed his final push to perfection.
“In the last kilometre I knew I had plenty in the tank,” he said afterwards. “I just wanted to make sure I got everything out and didn’t leave it too late to make my move.”
“I knew that if I was close to Swifty I’d have a chance. I hugged close to the barriers and had a go. Now I feel like I can mix it with the big boys.”
Two of the early breakaway riders won the day’s other honours. Steve Lampier of Node4 Velosure made it a great day for British cycling by claiming the King of the Mountains title, while Dutchman Steven Lammertink, Team Giant-Shimano’s stagiaire, won the sprint contest.
It was Blythe, however, who won the most important sprint of the day.
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