Team Sky’s Elia Viviani took the opening stage of the 2015 Tour of Britain, sprinting to victory in one of the closest finishes the race has ever seen. Home favourite Mark Cavendish of Etixx-QuickStep was the runner-up, losing out in the photo finish.
“With 100m to go I thought it was too late,” said Viviani. “I thought Cav would start earlier but then he went to the middle of the road and I saw a small space and I thought ‘ok, I’ll go that way and we will see’.”
“It took a few metres after the line to realise I had won. I only understood that I had when I saw Cav say ‘Oh no’. We were close, eh?”
The win comes as a much-needed boost for the Italian, who admitted that he had been disappointed by his results in the Vattenfall Cyclassics and the GP Plouay late last month.
“I didn’t get the result I wanted there, but I’m really happy with this. It’s a good test for my condition, and good for the Worlds too because that’s a big focus for the end of my season.”
Viviani benefitted from a day’s worth of work from his team, with Brit Andy Fenn notably putting in big stints at the front of the peloton.
“He did great work and has really good condition,” said Viviani. “The six-man teams are strange for us, and with Wout Poels and Pete Kennaugh looking to GC, we needed to use Ben Swift and Andy for the sprint today.”
Earlier in the day a four-man break was established almost as soon as the peloton left the town of Beaumaris, with Peter Williams (One Pro Cycling), Conor Dunne (An Post-Chainreaction), Tom Stewart (Madison-Genesis) and Kristian House (JLT-Condor) out front for most of the day’s 178km.
House’s efforts saw him take the first Skoda King of the Mountains jersey of the race with a late attack over the final climb of the day at Bwlch. Dunne leads the Yodel Sprint classification.
With the might of Etixx-QuickStep and Sky riding at the front of the peloton for much of the day, there was no chance that the escapees would be allowed to contest the finish among themselves.
That didn’t stop House trying though, and his repeated attacks saw him secure a lump of local cheese and the Rouleur Combativity Award. Nevertheless, he and his breakmates were brought back with 1.5km to go.
The technical final kilometres saw Cavendish’s Etixx-QuickStep train then came to the fore, with Colombian Fernando Gaviria and Mark Renshaw leading out the Manxman, but in the end it was to no avail. Lotto-Soudal’s Andre Greipel rounded out the podium, while Team Wiggins’ Owain Doull put in a strong showing to finish fourth.
All photos provided by SweetSpot.
|1||Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky||4:26:29|
|2||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx – Quick-Step|
|3||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|4||Owain Doull (GBr) Team Wiggins|
|5||Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team|
|6||Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal|
|7||Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx – Quick-Step|
|8||Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN – Qhubeka|
|9||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|10||Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor|
|1||Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky||4:26:19|
|2||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx Quick Step||0:00:04|
|3||Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal||0:00:06|
|4||Owain Doull (GBr) Team Wiggins||0:00:10|
|5||Juan José Lobato (Spa) Movistar Team|
|KING OF THE MOUNTAINS|
|1||Kristian House (GBr) JLT-Condor||20|
|2||Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison-Genesis||19|
|3||Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling||17|
|1||Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post-ChainReaction||7|
|2||Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling||6|
|3||Kristian House (GBr) JLT-Condor||3|
|1||Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky||15|
|2||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx Quick Step||14|
|3||Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal||13|