Camberley – Brighton: a look back

Julien Vermote wins OPQS's third stage of the Tour (SweetSpot)
Julien Vermote wins OPQS’s third stage of the Tour (SweetSpot)

Julian Vermote won on the seafront in Brighton after being out in the break almost all day on the longest stage of the race. Fellow escapee Dylan Van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) becomes the second man in two days to take the race lead from the breakaway.

Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN-Qhubeka), Kevyn Ista (IAM) and Marcin Białobłocki (Velosure-Giordana) were also in the break but were dropped as the decisive moves were made. Like yesterday, the maximum gap was ten minutes as Omega Pharma-QuickStep struggled to contain the breakaway. After ceasing his work after 140km Vermote attacked on Ditchling Beacon and never looked back, finishing 23 seconds ahead of Konovalovas and Van Baarle.

Julien Vermote won in Brighton (SweetSpot)
Julien Vermote won in Brighton (SweetSpot)

The peloton came in 1:20 down after a frantic chase over the first category climbs in the closing kilometres. What was left of the peloton was shattered on Ditchling Beacon, with yellow jersey Alex Dowsett on the wrong end of the split. Brad Wiggins, Edoardo Zardini, Nicolas Roche and Michał Kwiatkowski were safe in the front group as the gap back to Dowsett grew. The man from Essex lost over a minute to the other GC men and falls to tenth overall.

Young Tao Geoghehan Hart did a great job to stay with the GC men but flew into the barriers as he tried to lead the group around the final hairpin bend. It looked horrific but he will continue. Meanwhile Kwiatkowski led the group across the line and now lies 19 seconds behind Van Baarle ahead of tomorrow’s race-deciding time trial.

Dylan Van Baarle is another surprise leader (SweetSpot)
Dylan Van Baarle is another surprise leader (SweetSpot)

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Rider reaction

Dylan Van Baarle, race leader (Garmin-Sharp)

Really tired. It was a pretty hard day, we went almost from start to finish full gas and when I crossed the line I was completely dead.

Yeah, I like this time trial distance the most. I’m not a Wiggins that needs 50km or whatever. I’m more a prologue specialist. I don’t know how the legs will feel tomorrow for the other guys and it will be hard tomorrow.

I wanted to show my name a little bit, show myself, but I didn’t expect to be wearing the yellow jersey. Before the race I was thinking about top 10, top 15 and now I’m thinking about the podium or maybe winning.

Julien Vermote, stage winner (OPQS)

I’m a bit surprised because only one day I didn’t ride at the front of the peloton. Actually, every day I felt I recovered quite well. I went into the break and I felt immediately I had a good chance because yesterday the break was 10 minutes in front and I know how hard it is to chase it down, particularly yesterday.

I know my place in the team because with all the good riders I like to help them. But yknow its also nice if you can finally win a stage. Also, I’m really happy that finally I finally got the red number of Rouleur. I really wanted that this week – I saw it every day.

Matthias Brändle, double stage winner (IAM)

Again it was a tough day. Its a hard race, harder than expected. I don’t know about the finish because the last 20km were easy for me – I think I’ve had enough pain for this week. For me it was a really successful week – it was great this week.

I think that the one week races are good for me. If I rode for the general I could’ve got top 10. More important for me and the team was 2 stages. Lets see what the future brings but I think I have a good engine and could also win one week stage races.

The Worlds TT is a real goal for me. I have trained for that. Tomorrow I’ll have to see. The last two days were really hard and I suffered a lot. I don’t know how explosive I am but tomorrow we will see who managed to recover best.

Jan Bárta, 13th overall (NetApp-Endura)

I’d like to try my best in the time trial. It won’t be as hard in the afternoon. Today was a very hard stage with a lot of hills and we rode the last kilometres au bloc.

I’ll go to the Worlds for sure because I’m National Champion. I hope I can do the best result like last year because last year I was 11th. I hope I can be in the top ten. If I have good legs maybe better.

Manuel Bongiorno, 15th overall (Bardiani-CSF)

I tried to attack the last climb but the climb is too short to make a difference. The legs were good but there was a breakaway. We tried, but yeah, its good.

We had Zardini in very good condition. Tomorrow we can do a good time trial with him. The sprint is for Ruffoni. We can try in the afternoon with him.

t.

Good day for
OPQS – A stage win and in prime position to take the GC tomorrow

Bad day for
Alex Dowsett – Tried to hold on but it was just too much for him today

Stage result
1 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 5:12:34
2 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN-Qhubeka 0:00:23
3 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:20
5 Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
6 Kevin Ista (Bel) IAM Cycling
7 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
9 Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
12 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team
14 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
17 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo
General classification
1 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp 30:22:02
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:19
3 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:00:25
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:35
5 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:36
6 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:45
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:47
8 David Lopez Garcia (Esp) Team Sky 0:00:49
9 Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling 0:00:51
10 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:59

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 8a – London ITT

tob s8a prof

 

The deciding stage of the Tour of Britain is an 8.8km time trial from Whitehall to Tower Hill and back. The big question is whether neo-pro Dylan Van Baarle can hold on to his 19 second lead over pre-race favourite Michał Kwiatkowski. Its a totally flat course, and not technical at all, as the majority of the stage is a straight run along the Thames.

The obvious favourite is Michał Kwiatkowski. He can do a bit of everything and this short TT is perfectly suited to him. In-form Matthias Brändle took it easy today and he told me he will go for it tomorrow. The short distance isn’t ideal for Brad Wiggins but he is the best pure time trialist here. Alex Dowsett is in good form but has been going all out for a couple of days now.

Jan Bárta was third in the Tour’s final TT and said he will test himself here as he builds for the Worlds. Sylvain Chavanel hasn’t been too noticeable in the race but he’s strong against the clock too, while Steve Cummings is another good time trialist. Nicolas Roche will be looking to move onto the podium, though he’s hardly noted for his skills in this discipline. Race leader Dylan Van Baarle will be motivated and has said he liked the course so it could be a close one.

*****
**** Michał Kwiatkowski
*** Matthias Brändle, Brad Wiggins, Alex Dowsett
** Jan Barta, Sylvain Chavanel, Steve Cummings
* Nicolas Roche, Dylan Van Baarle

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Stage 8b – London

tob s8b prof

 

The roads used in the TT get another pounding as the 2014 Tour of Britain finishes with a ten lap criterium around London. There are three sprints along the way and if the GC time gaps are still close after the morning stage then we could see a battle for the win. Otherwise, it should be a standard sprint stage as we saw in Liverpool.

Marcel Kittel is the strongest sprinter in the world and we might finally get to see him go head to head with Mark Cavendish. Ben Swift has been consistent and just lost out to Mark Renshaw in Llandudno – the Australian should take over if Cavendish gets into trouble. Nicola Ruffoni is the fastman from Bardiani-CSF and was runner-up on stage one. Heinrich Haussler and Tyler Farrar are both good riders who have never managed to recapture their best form.

***** Marcel Kittel
**** Mark Cavendish
*** Ben Swift, Nicola Ruffoni
** Heinrich Haussler, Mark Renshaw
* Tyler Farrar

tob s8b map

Bath – Hemel Hempstead: a look back

Brändle wins again! (SweetSpot)
Brändle wins again! (SweetSpot)

Matthias Brändle took his second stage victory in as many days, but the big story was Britain’s own Alex Dowsett taking the yellow jersey. The final hills of the race are on the menu tomorrow – scroll down for a preview.

The peloton fractured early on thanks to the fast pace caused by multiple groups attempting to break away from the peloton. After 50km the break of the day was established, containing stage 5 winner Brändle (IAM), Dowsett (Movistar) and Thomas Stewart (Madison-Genesis). Their lead quickly ballooned out to over 9 minutes at the feed zone as the peloton took it easy.

The peloton in Bath (SweetSpot)
The peloton in Bath (SweetSpot)

As the kilometres ticked down so did the gap, albeit sluggishly. 60km out the break’s advantage was still 8 minutes and according to cycling’s golden 10km = 1 minute rule it looked like they had a good chance of staying away.

It took until the final 15km for another team join to join OPQS at the front of the peloton. The gap was still over three minutes at that point and Bardiani-CSF were the team in question.

Matthias Brändle celebrates after the stage (SweetSpot)
Matthias Brändle celebrates after the stage (SweetSpot)

Kwiatkowski the race leader was in panic mode and even took the front himself to try and reduce the gap. By that point though, it was too late – Brändle easily came past his companions in the final metres to clinch the win, while Dowsett was confirmed as the new leader soon after as the peloton crossed the line 1:51 back.

One last note: as long as Brändle isn’t in the break again tomorrow, Mark McNally has the mountains jersey sewn up – he is 20 points ahead of the Austrian with 26 on offer tomorrow.

Alex Dowsett in his new jersey (SweetSpot)
Alex Dowsett in his new jersey (SweetSpot)

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Rider reaction

Alex Dowsett, race leader (Movistar)

I think I’ve eaten more gels today than I have in my lifetime! I really suffered for that today, I would say its one of the hardest days I’ve had on the bike.

We’ve got a team of fantastic climbers so I’m pretty sure whatever Kwiatkowski and Nicolas throw at us, riders like Visconti and Ion can neutralise it. I just need to be able to hang on really. Kwiatkowski is the main threat because on his day he can knock out a better time trial than me.

Matthias Brändle, stage winner (IAM)

I was coming to the Tour of Britain and wanted to do a good race and now I have two stage wins its a little bit unbelievable for me.

We worked well together and I knew Alex wanted to go really hard for the GC – I let him do a bit more work in the final so I saved energy. I knew if it came to a sprint i just had to stay on the wheel of Dowsett and go with 200 metres to go.

Michał Kwiatkowski, 2nd overall (OPQS)

I want to say thank you to my teammates – they really gave their hearts to try and keep my leaders jersey but in the end it didn’t work. We still have 3 stages in front of us so its not over.

We were trying to not let many guys go into the breakaway. We were actually happy with that breakaway with not so many riders out there but in the end it was impossible to chase them back. We did a good job but as I said its part of the sport.

Dylan Teuns, 5th overall (BMC)

Its a long race so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow but yeah the final is better for me than today. I don’t know if we’ll work though. Kwiatkowski will try something for sure to take the jersey back. He will fight tomorrow and if I’m good I will follow.

We’ll see (about the tt). I hope I have good legs and then maybe it’ll be ok. I’m not the best but I will put in a fight for sure.

Jack Bauer, 15th overall (Garmin-Sharp)

It wasn’t a tough day for us because we didnt have to do any work. Tomorrow is another long bumpy day and we’ll see if we can come up with the goods. We don’t have someone for GC so its really about going for the stage.

Me and Dylan (Van Baarle) are both outside the top ten – its going to be a big ask to break into the top 5 or the top 3, although as Dowsett showed today anything can happen.

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Good day for
Alex Dowsett – Certainly made up for his bad luck the other day
Matthias Brändle – Two stage wins in a row. Enough said

Bad day for
Michał Kwiatkowski – Loses the lead but will be fighting again tomorrow

Stage result
1 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 4:44:49
2 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:01
3 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:01:51
5 Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
6 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
7 Martin Kohler (Sui) BMC Racing Team
8 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9 Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
10 Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
General classification
1 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 25:07:53
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:34
3 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:00:40
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:50
5 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:51
6 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team 0:01:00
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:02
8 David Lopez Garcia (Esp) Team Sky 0:01:04
9 Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:06
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 7: Camberley – Brighton (226.5km)

tob s7 prof

Expect attacks galore on the road to the south coast as Alex Dowsett looks to defend his lead against the likes of Michał Kwiatkowski, Nicolas Roche and Edoardo Zardini.

Once again its up and down all day, though the final kilometres are tougher than today’s run-in. Half of all the first category climbs in the race are shoehorned into the final 20km.

Ditchling Beacon is first up and the tougher of the two – its 1.5km long and has an average gradient of 8.7%. Bear Road is shorter but just as steep, and comes 6km from the finish. The descent isn’t a technical one, and the final 4km are flat.

tob s7 finish

Who will win?

Michał Kwiatkowski has to be the favourite. He will be looking to win back the leaders jersey and has a strong team to help him try and drop Dowsett. Nicolas Roche and Edoardo Zardini are both a bit further back on the GC but they both need to attack too. It looks like it could end up being Movistar vs the rest tomorrow.

Ion Izagirre will be using his energy defending Dowsett’s lead, but he’s the strongest climber on the team and could be allowed to go for the win if the Brit is out of the picture early. Sylvain Chavanel‘s race hasn’t gone as well as he would’ve liked but we could see him go for a last ditch attack on the tough finale. An outsider for the win is Garmin’s Jack Bauer – he’s the best climber on the team and has said that stage wins are the aim.

*****
**** Michał Kwiatkowski
*** Nicolas Roche, Edoardo Zardini
** Ion Izagirre, Sylvain Chavanel
* Jack Bauer

tob s7 map

Exmouth – Exeter: a look back

Matthias Brändle takes the win on stage 5 (SweetSpot)
Matthias Brändle takes the win on stage 5 (SweetSpot)

Matthias Brändle of IAM Cycling took the first breakaway win of the race after leaving his companions behind on Stoke Hill, the final climb of the day. The day was characterised by a lack of enthusiasm for the chase from the peloton, with only Garmin-Sharp putting in a sustained attempt to chase the four escapees.

Brändle was joined by Andreas Stauff (MTN-Qhubeka), Maarten Wynants (Belkin) and Shane Archbold (An Post). The group were never given more than three minutes by the peloton, as Brändle himself was only three minutes down on GC at the start of the day.

Race leader Michał Kwiatkowski (SweetSpot)
Race leader Michał Kwiatkowski (SweetSpot)

The majority of the stage was relatively uneventful, with OPQS controlling the peloton. Garmin took to the front in the final 50km and it was clear they wanted to provide a launchpad for Jack Bauer to attack on the final climb of the day. Tinkoff-Saxo and Bardiani-CSF came to the front in the last 15km, but the gap to the break was still two minutes at that point, and a catch looked unlikely.

There were several attacks out of the peloton on Stoke Hill, with Dylan Van Baarle, Edoardo Zardini and Nicolas Roche all trying and failing to stay away. Half a minute up the road Brändle was a lot more successful with his acceleration, and the time trial specialist used his pacing ability to hold on for the win. Archbold and Wynants held on to fill out the podium and ensure that nobody in the peloton would be taking bonus seconds.

A devil with the break on Haytor (SweetSpot)
A devil with the break on Haytor (SweetSpot)

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Rider reaction

Matthias Brändle (IAM)

Yesterday we had to chase the break and I had to go really deep to try and make the catch. Today I thought maybe I can make it the opposite way, go in the breakaway and maybe its possible for the stage win. That’s what I tried today and finally it happened.

In the middle of the race I think nobody in the breakaway really believed in the win because we only had one minute but then they gave us a little bit more. At 40km to go we said now we’ll go full speed like we really want to try and then suddenly the gap went out and it was not possible for Garmin to chase us back.

I had the feeling that I was the strongest in the group. If you are the strongest you don’t want to wait for the sprint. Wynants had a good speed on the climb but I thought i could go faster. I just tried as hard as I could and when I looked back there was nobody on my wheel.

Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQS)

It wasn’t easy for our team. We were trying to control the gap at two minutes and we knew that Brandle was at 3 minutes in the GC so it was not a dangerous breakaway for us. If someone from another team wants to win the stage then they have to take control and chase down the breakaway.

I have to thank my teammates, they really took the pressure off me. Today I was really relaxed and recovered after leading for four stages so far. This was the first one I could feel really relaxed.

Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF)

Tough stage, I’m 3 seconds down on Kwiatowski. I hope to mantain this position and finish on the podium. Time trialing is not my speciality but I will try to defend my place.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM)

We came here with one goal and we wanted Chava to try and give him a shot on GC. Try and maybe pull back some seconds before the TT. Maybe with a bonus in the sprints or maybe in the finish with a late attack or something.

I’ve verbally agreed to stay with the team. Nothing signed yet.

Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp DS)

[Van Baarle and Bauer] they’re going to try and make up some time in some way or another. Its an unpredictable race with 6 riders in each team and these roads so hopefully we can take advantage of that.

They’re both very very strong time trialists but its also not a long time trial and to leave it so late is not ideal so we hope to improve things a little bit before then.

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Good day for
IAM – A stage win is a nice consolation if Chavanel misses the podium
OPQS – Let others do the work and the break take the bonus seconds

Bad day for
Garmin – Worked very hard for Bauer but ended up with nothing

Stage result
1 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 4:32:03
2 Shane Archbold (NZ) An Post-Chain Reaction 0:00:08
3 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF 0:00:14
5 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
6 Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
8 Kevyn Ista (Bel) IAM Cycling
9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo
10 Jack Bauer (NZ) Garmin-Sharp

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 6: Bath – Hemel Hempstead (205.6km)

tob s6 prof

Its the longest stage of the race so far and yet another hilly stage, with most of the climbing shoehorned into the final 50km. There are a couple of second category climbs there, but the final hill before the finish in uncategorised.

Expect a similar situation to Llandudno, as a small group contests the finish. The stage is harder, and backloaded with climbs. Three kilometres of flat road await the riders after the final climb, which could cause a problem for any lone escapee. Should there be a bunch finish, there are not too many obstacles to overcome, with a 90 d corner at 3km to go and a sweeping bend inside the final kilometre.

tob s6 finish

Who will win?

Once again, it all depends on how the climbs are ridden. We could see some of the more versatile sprinters survive to the finish, or we could see another GC showdown as everybody battles for the bonus seconds on offer.

Due to his versatility, Michał Kwiatkowski is the standout favourite. Should Mark Renshaw make it to the finish in the lead group then he’s a possibility too. Team Sky have a versatile sprinter in the shape of Ben Swift, but I don’t think Brad Wiggins is explosive enough to take the win here.

Bardiani-CSF will be riding in support of Edoardo Zardini – he has a decent turn of speed while Sonny Colbrelli has a fast finish and can make it over the climbs. Sylvain Chavanel could try an attack over the final climb, while Heinrich Haussler could be a threat in a bunch sprint. Another name to look out for is BMC’s talented youngster Rick Zabel, who should feature if it comes down to a sprint.

*****
**** Michał Kwiatkowski
*** Ben Swift, Sonny Colbrelli
** Rick Zabel, Mark Renshaw
* Haussler, Chavanel, Zardini

tob s6 map

Worcester – Bristol: a look back

Michał Kwiatkowski on the final climb (SweetSpot)
Michał Kwiatkowski on the final climb (SweetSpot)

Michał Kwiatkowski nipped past a dithering lead duo 150 metres from the finish to take Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s second win of the Tour of Britain. The Pole now takes over the yellow jersey.

A large break went away early on, and for the first time Mark McNally wasn’t there. Garmin’s Lasse Hansen made it again, and the Dane was joined by Albert Timmer (Giant) and Alex Dowsett (Movistar) as well as Sebastian Lander, Peter Velits (BMC) and a handful of British Continental riders.

Their gap peaked at four minutes but IAM and OPQS took to the front to limit their advantage as they were interested in getting their leaders the win and the bonus seconds that go with it. Alex Dowsett was unfortunate to puncture at 60km to go and was forced to drop back to the peloton as a result.

Nicolas Roche on the attack on the final climb (SweetSpot)
Nicolas Roche on the attack on the final climb (SweetSpot)

After that there wasn’t much action until Hansen, Velits and Timmer attacked with 13km to go. The trio worked well together to prolong their stay out front until Timmer decided enough was enough on the final climb. Back in the peloton Jack Bauer attacked and caught the Giant rider.

It looked certain that the duo would contest the win but in the final 500 metres the pair seemed to slow. OPQS leader Kwiatkowski seemingly came out of nowhere in the final bend to sprint past Timmer and Bauer to take the win, bonus seconds and the overall lead.

Kwiatowski sneaks past to take the win (SweetSpot)
Kwiatowski sneaks past to take the win (SweetSpot)

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Rider reaction

Michał Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

I didn’t expect such a hard climb at the end. I think bauer and timmer didn’t see us before the last corner. I was sure nobody was on my wheel and I’m happy that I could finish like that after the amazing work from my team.

Its not an easy race to control. Of course we have a really strong team and we’re gonna try to win this race but there’s still a few stages to go.

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Good day for
OPQS – Another stage win, and now in the GC lead

Bad day for
Timmer & Bauer – Threw away a chance of victory on the final corner

Stage result
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 4:19:09
2 Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing
4 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin Sharp
5 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:06
8 Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
General classification
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 15:49:33
2 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:00:03
3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing 0:00:14
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo
5 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
7 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp – Endura 0:00:29
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:00:45
10 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin Sharp 0:00:48

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 5: Exmouth – Exeter (177.3km)

tob s5 prof

More hills tomorrow and a finish similar to the one we saw in Llandudno. The route loops inland from Exmouth and through Dartmoor National Park, with the fierce climb of Haytor featuring 62 kilometres in. That’s the last categorised climb until Stoke Hill, which comes two kilometres from the finish.

The final climb isn’t as tough as the Great Orme and the two kilometre descent into the city centre isn’t as technical as we saw on that stage – its a mostly straight run-in. I think we’ll see a similar outcome at the finish with a reduced peloton contesting the win.

tob s5 finish

Who will win?

After his win on similar terrain on stage 2, Mark Renshaw is one of the favourites tomorrow. The finish should suit Sky’s Ben Swift too, as long as the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel don’t make it over Stoke Hill at the front of the peloton. As for those two, well we’ll see how hard the pace is in the final kilometres.

Heinrich Haussler of IAM Cycling could be a factor too, although he doesn’t seem to be in great form. Yellow jersey Michał Kwiatkowski will be looking for time bonuses in order to consolidate his lead, and will be the man for OPQS is Renshaw fails. Nicola Ruffoni of Bardiani-CSF is having a great race and will be present in any sprint finish.

Moving onto puncheurs, Giovanni Visconti could try something if he wasn’t too injured in today’s crash, so too could Sylvain Chavanel given his time deficit to the yellow jersey. Whether they can stay away on the descent is another matter though. NFTO’s Adam Blythe is an outsider, and he seems to be in good enough form to put in a late attack.

*****
**** Mark Renshaw, Ben Swift
*** Michał Kwiatkowski, Heinrich Haussler
** Giovanni Visconti, Sylvain Chavanel
* Adam Blythe, Nicola Ruffoni

tob s5 map

Newtown – The Tumble: a look back

Zardini leads Roche up The Tumble (SweetSpot)
Zardini leads Roche up The Tumble (SweetSpot)

Edoardo Zardini continued a very good race for Bardiani-CSF with a win on the Queen Stage. The young Veronesi takes over the GC lead, while Michał Kwiatowski was the best of the rest nine seconds back.

Mark McNally was out in the breakaway again, but he was beaten at every mountain sprint by Tinkoff-Saxo’s Manuele Boaro, who made it into the break after spending yesterday fruitlessly chasing it. Boaro was the last man standing but was swept up by the peloton before the final climb started.

The first bid for stage victory came from Garmin’s Jack Bauer, who struck out alone 4km from the line. Zardini joined him soon after and did all the pacemaking as the New Zealander struggled to keep up.

The breakaway in Knighton (SweetSpot)
The breakaway in Knighton (SweetSpot)

The Italian promptly dropped Bauer on the steepest part of the climb but soon had more company in the form of Nicolas Roche. The Irishman was churning a big gear and managed to pull out a gap but under the flamme rouge Zardini was back with him.

As Zardini made his final bid for victory, Sky leader Bradley Wiggins was struggling and had to be paced back to the lead group by David Lopez. He recovered to take fifth on the day and is still in with a chance of overall victory. IAM’s leader Sylvain Chavanel has a harder task ahead after he lost 32 seconds.

A joyous Edoardo Zardini (SweetSpot)
A joyous Edoardo Zardini (SweetSpot)

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Good day for
Bardiani-CSF – Victory on the Queen stage for the Italian squad
Michał Kwiatowski – Best of the big favourites

Bad day for
Sylvain Chavanel – Surprisingly lost over half a minute on The Tumble

Stage result
1 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 4:35:02
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:09
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:11
4 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:14
6 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
7 David Lopez Garcia (Esp) Team Sky
8 Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling 0:00:16
9 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team
10 Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
11 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:00:32
General classification
1 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 11:30:21
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:13
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:17
4 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:24
6 David Lopez Garcia (Esp) Team Sky
7 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:26
8 Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
9 Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling
10 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:37
11 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:00:42

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 4: Worcester – Bristol (184.6km)

tob s4 prof

The race heads back to England for its second uphill finish. Its nowhere near as tough as The Tumble, but the Ardennes-style second category climb will still provide a challenging finish for the peloton.

There are a couple of categorised climbs earlier in the day, including a second category climb just 14km from the start, so the fight to get in the breakaway will be very keenly contested. Bizarrely the two bizarrely hills in the second half of the stage are uncategorised.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Look out for the Clifton Suspension Bridge near the finish – one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s greatest creations, its 150 years old this year.

The final climb is on the Bridge Valley Road. Its a short blast of just under a kilometre, but the 9% sections will no doubt provide a chance for attacks. Whoever gets away on the climb has two kilometres of flatter road to contend with on the twisting run-in to the finish.

tob s4 finish

Who will win?

We saw in Llandudno that some of the sprinters could make it over a hill near the finish, but I have a feeling that we could see a late attack stay away tomorrow. A strong breakaway staying away is also a possibility.

Michał Kwiatkowski lies second in GC and will be taking every opportunity he can to overhaul Enrico Zardini. His sprinting ability means he’s the favourite. I’m not sure that Mark Renshaw can make it over the climb but he’s in good form. Sky’s Ben Swift will be able to though, and he should figure in the sprint.

Movistar came with the strongest team in the race but they haven’t showed that so far. Giovanni Visconti and Ion Izagirre both have a good shot at the win tomorrow. The Spaniard looks a better bet to finish high up on GC though, so he will be their main man. Sylvain Chavanel is another who needs to make up time wherever he can.

An outsider for the win is NFTO’s Adam Blythe. The Brit has just confirmed his return to the WorldTour with a two-year contract at GreenEdge. He likes to attack and has a good sprint as we saw in the RideLondon Classic. Bardiani-CSF are looking good so far and should have someone present at the finish.

*****
**** Michal Kwiatkowski
*** Ben Swift
** Giovanni Visconti/Ion Izagirre
* Sylvain Chavanel, Adam Blythe, Bardiani-CSF

tob s4 map

Knowsley – Llandudno: a look back

Mark Renshaw took his first win of the season (TOB)
Mark Renshaw took his first win of the season (SweetSpot)

Mark Renshaw of OPQS took the win from Ben Swift after a confused finale. There were several attacks over the Great Orme but it all came back together on the descent for a reduced bunch sprint.

King of the mountains leader Mark McNally (An Post) made the break again. He was looking to extend his lead in the competition and was joined by Chris Lawless (Great Britain), Lasse Hansen (Garmin), Rob Partridge (Giordana), Ian Bibby (Madison) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar).

GC contenders lead the way on the Great Orme (TOB)
GC contenders lead the way on the Great Orme (SweetSpot)

The attacks began on the hills before the final run-in, and the break split 13km from the finish with Hansen, McNally and Lastras remaining alone out front. They didn’t last long though, as OPQS and Sky took to the front and the trio were brought back before the final climb.

Sylvain Chavanel had the most potent effort on the Great Orme, but it wasn’t enough to stay away until the end. Michał Kwiatkowski got away on the descent but he too was brought back. His team were on the front in the final kilometres though, and in the end it was Niki Terpstra who led out Mark Renshaw for the win.

Stage winner Mark Renshaw (SweetSpot)
Stage winner Mark Renshaw (SweetSpot)

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.Rider reaction

Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF)

Yesterday we rode very well with Colbrelli and Ruffoni. Today, the stage was too complicated with climb and the road.

Tomorrow we’ll try to take a good result on The Tumble but other teams have some very strong riders like Chavanel, Reichenbach and Wiggins. I don’t know the last climb [some sections 10%] We can try yeah, we can attempt with another rider – a lot of teams are very strong. The legs are good so we’ll try.

After the Tour of Britain we’ll go for the Trittico Lombardo, Memorial Pantani and Giro dell’Emilia. Its is a very good race for me and the team, so we’ll try to take a good result in Lombardia and also Trittico Lombardo and Giro dell’Emilia

Leopold König (NetApp-Endura)

I just wanted to test my legs today. My feelings in the race were really bad, especially at the beginning of the race when I felt completely empty and without power, so I just wanted to test the legs before tomorrow’s stage.

I think in the final I was not so bad, I followed one of the strongest guys in the race but the climb was just too short to make it clear to the finish. I think we can be satisfied today though
To be honest I don’t know about tomorrow because after my last race in Colorado I was sick and I’m still not 100% healthy.

Normally I would say I want to win tomorrow for sure but we’ll see. I can’t say with my condition whats going to happen – I don’t really have confidence but after today I think anything is possible.
Next year? Yeah, its not decided yet. We have to wait for the official announcement. We’re still talking.

Adam Blythe (NFTO)

In the coming days I think I’ll just be getting round, rolling round. Tomorrow’s at The Tumble so I’ll just ride my own pace up there and get to the top. That’s about it really. The day after and the rest of the week its similar to today so we’ll see if we can get up there and ride into it a bit.

My legs were feeling a bit achey today, but its always normal after just one day of racing so hopefully I feel a bit better tomorrow and have a good go again but yeah we’ll see

As for next year, I’m open to offers and things like that, so I’m going to see what happens but at the moment there are no set plans so we’ll see

Mark McNally (An Post – ChainReaction)

We’ll see if I can hang on tomorrow, I’ll give it another go. All you can do is try. It’ll be more difficult tomorrow but Nothing’s impossible.
One of my best friends Ian Bibby was in the break, he managed to get them to wait for me so I owe him a couple of coffees.

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Good day for
OPQS – They tried a number of options and still won even with Cavendish injured
Mark McNally – Managed to get into the break again to extend his KOM lead

Bad day for

 Chris Lawless – The 18 year-old had to drop back from the breakaway due to a puncture

Stage result
1 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 4:38:54
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Team NetApp-Endura
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
5 Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
7 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
8 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
9 Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 3: Newtown – The Tumble (179.9km)

tob s3 prof

More hills, and the first of two uphill finishes in the race. Its the hardest finish of the race – a 6km climb with 3km at 10%. Before that its up and down all day, and the stage could go a long way to deciding the winner of the race.

Who will win?

Leopold König is the best climber in the race – he showed that with his seventh place finish at the Tour. He told me that he doesn’t feel great, but he was on the attack today and should figure in the finale. Reigning champion Brad Wiggins hasn’t had much racing recently but will be in contention.

Sylvain Chavanel leads IAM and is a great all-rounder. He is building for the Worlds and has been in very good form recently. Swiss climber Sebastian Reichenbach will be the backup option should Chavanel fail. Michał Kwiatkowski is another jack of all trades. He struggled in the mountains in the Tour but this is no col.

Bardiani-CSF have a few cards to play in the form of Enrico Battaglin and Manuel Bongiorno. They are outsiders for GC but always liven a race and I think they’ll snatch a stage at some point. Ion Izagirre is Movistar’s man but he isn’t the strongest climber here. Giovanni Visconti could step up if the Spaniard fails.

*****
**** Leopold König, Nicolas Roche, Brad Wiggins
*** Sylvain Chavanel, Michał Kwiatkowski
** Enrico Battaglin/Manuel Bongiorno, Ion Izagirre
*  Giovanni Visconti, Sebastian Reichenbach

tob s2 map

Liverpool: a look back

Kittel celebrates his stage win (TOB)
Kittel celebrates his stage win (SweetSpot)

Marcel Kittel won the opening stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain, beating Bardiani-CSF’s Nicola Ruffoni into second place. Home favourite Mark Cavendish finished third after crashing mid-race. He will take a trip to hospital for a checkup later.

The break of the day took shape on the first lap of the race. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Jonathan Mould (NFTO), Mark McNally (An Post), Richard Handley (Rapha) made it and their advantage topped out at just under two minutes. Once the sprinters teams got to work though, there was no hope and they were brought back with 3km to go.

Kittel vs Ruffoni for the win (TOB)
Kittel vs Ruffoni for the win (SweetSpot)

Giant-Shimano and Sky led the way for the majority of the day, but Cavendish sent his OPQS team to the front on the final lap. NetApp looked to lead Sam Bennett out in the final kilometre but the Irishman could only manage 12th place.

Good day for
Marcel Kittel – Did what was expected of him to take the win

Bad day for
Mark Cavendish – A mid-race crash didn’t help his chances in the closest thing to a home stage

Stage result
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 2:16:35
2 Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp
5 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
6 Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
7 Daniel McClay (GBr) Great Britain
8 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
10 Enrique Sanz (Esp) Movistar Team

For full results and standings look here.

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Stage 2: Knowsley – Llandudno (200.8km)

tob s2 prof

Liverpool was the last time the peloton see flat road for a while – the hills start tomorrow as the race heads into Wales. The route is a lumpy one but it isn’t the toughest of the race.

Three second category climbs are situated in the latter third of the race, as well as an uncategorised climb around 15km out. The final climb of the Great Orme will be decisive – either a launchpad for late attacks or a final thinning out of the peloton before the sprint.

tob s2 finish

The descent isn’t a too technical, but it is fast with sweeping bends.The final kilometre is a straight run along the seafront.

Who will win?

The hills should get rid of the pure sprinters like Kittel and Cavendish, but the stage seems tailor-made for Sky’s Ben Swift. He’s a good sprinter, but he’s better when its a tough day. Michał Kwiatkowski of OPQS is the next favourite – he’s a great all-rounder, but not as fast as Swift. 

Both IAM and Bardiani-CSF have a double threat. Heinrich Haussler is a fast finisher who thrives on tough days, while Sylvain Chavanel could look to open his GC challenge with a late attack. For the Italian team, Manuel Bongiorno and Enrico Battaglin are the men most likely – both of them like the hills, but maybe the more challenging days to come will suit them more.

Movistar can look to their main GC man Ion Izagirre while they have Italian puncheur Giovanni Visconti in reserve. Finally, Lars-Petter Nordhaug is leading the way for Belkin.

*****
**** Ben Swift, Michał Kwiatkowski
*** Haussler/Chavanel, Bongiorno/Battaglin
** Giovanni Visconti/Ion Izagirre
* Lars-Petter Nordhaug

tob s2 map