Americans Abroad: Costa & Eisenhart at the Tour of Britain

taylor-eisenhart-bmc-twitter
Taylor Eisenhart, riding as staigiare for BMC (@tjeisenhart Twitter)

Taylor Eisenhart and Adrien Costa, two of America’s brightest young talents, made the trip across the Atlantic last week for the Tour of Britain. The week-long race marked the latest stage in their apprenticeships at two of the biggest teams in pro cycling – BMC for Eisenhart and Etixx-QuickStep for Costa.

22-year-old Eisenhart, who has raced for BMC’s Development squad for the past four seasons, was in high spirits as he prepared to start the race in Glasgow.

“It’s a dream come true for sure,” Eisenhart said of racing for BMC. “This is for sure the biggest race I’ve ever done – it’s like a show here – the crowds, everything. I’m more than excited to get this race going.”

The Utah native started his apprenticeship at his home race, August’s Tour of Utah, where he finished a strong seventh overall and supported team leader Darwin Atapuma as the Colombian finished fourth.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting that result. When we hit the first climbing day I looked back and there was nobody else on my wheel and just five guys up the road,” he said. “I was like ‘ok, we’ll see where this momentum is going’ and I was like ‘woah I can hang with the best at this race.’”

It’s a run of form he kept going at the Tour du Limousin, helping teammate Joey Rosskopf to the overall victory, and something he hopes to keep up this week. “By the time we hit the summit finish on stage six hopefully I’m the last guy for Rohan [Dennis] or I’m also up there in the mix,” he said. “Especially considering how I was climbing at Utah – I’m more than capable of being up there on those stages.”

Costa was also going well at Utah, ending up in second on GC – ahead of seasoned pros such as Andrew Talansky and Darwin Atapuma. Then he was off to France for the famous U23 proving ground, the Tour de l’Avenir – he took third overall to cap a great August.

Britain was Costa’s first race with Etixx-QuickStep, though he was already familiar with the team having taken part in a training camp with them back in December 2015. Racing with the team was a different experience though.

“I don’t really have any personal ambitions – I’m just trying to help the guys and see what I can learn,” he said at the start of the week. “I want to have some fun and I’m excited to discover this whole new level of racing.”

In the end Costa’s experience was a short-lived one, crashing hard on day two after his wheel slid on a reflector in the road as he ate a gel. He struggled on to the finish, rolling across the line in his blood-stained and ripped kit, over 23 minutes behind the winner – teammate Julien Vermote.

Suffering deep wounds to his elbow and side, he was off to hospital for surgery to close them – but not before a 24-hour wait. His race was over, but he remained with the team for the rest of the week.

“The cuts were right down to the bone on my elbows and on my abdomen, so it would’ve been too painful to clean and stitch while I was conscious,” Costa said outside the team bus before stage four. “Unfortunately I think if it had been on a normal road it would’ve been just a normal road rash sort of a deal but it was a really gritty, heavy road so obviously it cut me a lot deeper than normal.”

Costa, heavily bandaged, was smiling but clearly devastated to be out of his first race with the Belgian squad.

“It really sucks because you don’t get this opportunity every day, so for me that was the biggest bummer,” he said. “The wounds should be pretty much healed in three, four, five days so I just have to be careful with the bandaging. Hopefully I have a couple of races next week, so that should be nice.”

Meanwhile Eisenhart soldiered on, and looked to be improving as the week went on, taking sixteenth place in the Bristol time trial. After the summit finish of Haytor on stage six – where Eisenhart worked hard to help teammate Rohan Dennis take third – the Utahan reflected on his week.

“The whole race has been really hard – a lot harder than I honestly expected,” he said. “I think these power climbs are really just nutting me up. It’s different to getting on a 20km climb and setting a tempo.”

“The climbs – this whole race, just the style of it – it’s a lot more punchy, aggressive. It’s always very nervous in the bunch – honestly it’s been a fun race but it’s been tough.”

While Costa was forced out of the race early, Eisenhart left it much later – abandoning on the penultimate lap of the London criterium. The tough week eventually proved a bit too much for him, according to BMC DS Jackson Stewart, who said that he and teammate Loïc Vliegen had been suffering from stomach cramps.

He goes home having helped deliver team leader Dennis to a second overall and a stage win in Bristol, while Costa’s team went away with two stages and a spell in the yellow jersey.

But the calendar rolls on, and so will the American duo. Both headed to Belgium for the next stage of their apprenticeships. On September 17th they race the GP Van Petegem, while Costa’s first race back was the GP de Wallonie.

Looking further ahead, the duo’s futures are set, at least in the short term. Eisenhart was coy about exactly what he’d be doing in 2017 though.

“I’m still keeping that under wraps,” said Eisenhart. “I can say that I’m extremely excited with the team that I signed with for next year, and they’ve had a lot of belief in me for a while now. As each days goes by I think more and more about it and I know it’s the right place to be.”

Meanwhile Costa will return to Continental team Axeon Hagens Berman for 2017, though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the teenager move on to the WorldTour after that. “It’ll be good to stay one more year at U23 level – at least one more year,” he said. “It was super fun this year, and it was only my first year as an U23, so there’s still time.”

So the Tour of Britain may not have been as positive an experience as the two young Americans might have hoped for, but it’s just the start of a new experience, a new chapter in their careers – and there’s a long way to go yet.

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The final weekend: a look back

The peloton on Regent Street, London (SweetSpot)
The peloton race up Regent Street, London (SweetSpot)

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) shared the spoils on the final weekend of the 2015 Tour of Britain. Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) successfully defended his yellow jersey to take his second overall win at the race – the first man to win two editions of the modern race.

Fakenham – Ipswich

The East Anglia stage saw Greipel take his sixteenth win of the season, his first at the Tour of Britain, in a photo finish. The German started his sprint early, holding off a resurgent Elia Viviani to just shade it on the line.

Earlier in the day the Brit trio of Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Gabriel Cullaigh (Great Britain) and Graham Briggs (JLT-Condor) were in the break, though with such a flat stage on the menu they were never going to make it to finish.

Greipel shades it in Fakenham (SweetSpot)
Greipel shades it in Fakenham (SweetSpot)

The trio were duly caught thanks mainly to the work of Lotto-Soudal, while a late bid for glory from Zdeněk Štybar also proved fruitless as the Belgian squad were determined to deliver the Gorilla to the win.

stage result
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto – Soudal 5:14:42
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
3 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx – Quick Step
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka
6 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS
7 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
8 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
9 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin
10 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal

London

Elia Viviani triumphed on the final stage of the race, though he had to wait for race judges to confirm his win after Greipel, the first man over the line, was relegated due to irregular sprinting.

The big German moved across Viviani’s path as he stormed past, a move which saw the Sky rider protest and meant that Greipel would end up in 39th on the day.

“I had good speed in the legs after this really hard week,” said Viviani. “The guys have done amazing work for Wout [Poels] and myself this week. I’m disappointed because it would’ve been better to win without this, but we won in London and that’s the main thing.”

Greipel leads the peloton home in London (SweetSpot)
Greipel leads the peloton home in London (SweetSpot)

For the most part, the circuit race around Central London was a victory parade for Boasson Hagen, though the day did see Owain Doull move up onto the final podium thanks to bonus seconds claimed at the intermediate sprint.

It capped a strong race for the 22-year-old Welshman, who also took home the points jersey. One Pro Cycling, who are looking to move up to the ProContinental level for 2016, took the mountains and sprints jerseys thanks to a strong performance from Peter Williams.

The big plaudits, however, go to Boasson Hagen, who outperformed everybody’s expectations to take the overall win. His surprise performance on the summit finish of Hartside Fell will be seen as the defining moment of his second Tour of Britain victory.

The final podium (SweetSpot)
The final podium (SweetSpot)
stage result
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 1:50:16
2 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick Step
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
6 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
7 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx – Quick Step
8 Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor
9 Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Team Cannondale – Garmin
10 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS
general classification
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 34:52:52  
2 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:13  
3 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 0:00:42  
4 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling 0:00:43  
5 Zdenek _tybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step 0:00:51  
6 Rubén Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Movistar Team    
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo    
8 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin 0:00:53  
9 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Tinkoff – Saxo 0:00:59  
10 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post – Chainreaction 0:01:02
mountains classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 36  pts
2 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 34  
3 Mark McNally (GBr) Madison Genesis 29  
points classification
1 Owain Doull (GBr) Team Wiggins 78  pts
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 77  
3 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal 59  

 

sprints classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 18  pts
2 Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post – Chainreaction 11  
3 Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC Racing Team 10  

Stoke-on-Trent – Nottingham: a look back

Boasson Hagen extends his lead (SweetSpot)
Boasson Hagen extends his lead (SweetSpot)

Race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen took charge of the Tour of Britain today, chasing the breakaway alone and asserting his authority on the race. Etixx-QuickStep’s Matteo Trentin may have taken the win on the day but the Norwegian stretched his lead out to thirteen seconds, a gap which looks to be unassailable over the final two – largely flat – days.

The MTN-Qhubeka man was more concerned with extending his lead than taking the stage, leading out Trentin, who had been in the break of the day, as he looked to maximise his advantage.

“When Edvald arrived we had a good gap but everyone was on the limit because that was probably the hardest race we’d ever done,” said Trentin. “It was full gas from the start. I sat for a moment in his wheel and took a chance to breathe for the first time in 100 kilometre. Then I just jumped past him for the win.”

On paper the stage was one of the hardest of the race, and so it proved on the road, with the peloton fracturing early on as Boasson Hagen sprinted for bonus seconds.

The peloton on the road to Nottingham (SweetSpot)
The peloton on the road to Nottingham (SweetSpot)

A strong group containing Trentin, Stefan Küng (BMC), Jens Debuscherre (Lotto-Soudal), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin) and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) made up the breakaway, though by the time they reached the outskirts of Nottingham they were already attacking each other.

Back in the peloton, Sky were doing much of the work, though dislodging the yellow jersey proved to be an impossibility. With the men in black worn out after a day of work, Poels was isolated in the final kilometres, and that was Boasson Hagen’s time to strike, attacking with three kilometres to go.

Trentin leads  the yellow jersey home (SweetSpot)
Trentin leads the yellow jersey home (SweetSpot)

 

stage result
1 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick Step 4:45:27
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka
3 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 0:00:04
4 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
6 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Team Cannondale – Garmin
7 Alex Peters (GBr) Great Britain
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post – Chainreaction
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky
11 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
12 Rubén Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Movistar Team
13 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
14 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
15 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Great Britain
16 Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling
17 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Tinkoff – Saxo
18 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin
19 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
20 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff – Saxo
general classification
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 27:47:54
2 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:13
3 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling 0:00:43
4 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 0:00:44
5 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:51
6 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step
7 Rubén Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Movistar Team
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
9 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post – Chainreaction
10 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Tinkoff – Saxo
mountains classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 32  pts
2 Mark McNally (GBr) Madison Genesis 29
3 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 29
POINTS CLASSIFICATION
1 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 62  pts
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 54
3 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal 42
sprints classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 18  pts
2 Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post – Chainreaction 11
3 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto – Soudal 8

Prudhoe – Hartside Fell: a look back

Wout Poels crept past Edvald Boasson Hagen within metres of the line (Sweetspot)
Wout Poels crept past Edvald Boasson Hagen within metres of the line (Sweetspot)

Wout Poels (Team Sky) took the win on the hardest stage of the Tour of Britain, with a last-gasp push to the line on Hartside Fell.

MTN-Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen looked set to take a surprise victory, with few expecting the sprinter to be in contention on the race’s only summit finish. His late attack was thwarted by Poels, with the Dutchman’s second wind pushing him past with metres to spare.

“It’s always nice to win because I don’t win a lot of races,” Poels said. “It was pretty close in the final 500 metres. I thought that I would finish second but then Boasson Hagen slowed down a bit and I knew that I had to take that chance for the win.”

The Cumbrian terrain was lumpy all day, and One Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams took full advantage. The Lancastrian was out in the break for the third time in five days, with his efforts rewarded with both the mountain and sprint jerseys.

Breakmate and last year’s KOM winner Mark McNally (Madison-Genesis) beat Williams to the top of each hill, meaning there should be a grand battle for the polka-dot jersey over the coming days.

The break didn’t make it to the final climb though, as the combined work of MTN-Qhubeka, Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo ensured that the day would be decided by the GC men.

The peloton on the road to Hartside Fell (Sweetspot)
The peloton on the road to Hartside Fell (Sweetspot)

Race leader Juan José Lobato was one of the first to drop from the peloton on the climb, and it wasn’t long before the first attacks came. Cannondale-Garmin’s Ruben Zepuntke tried to break free with 7km remaining, but his move was soon usurped by a more committed effort from Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo).

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk and Poels were next to go, in a move that saw what was remaining of the peloton fall apart. With 3km to go it looked as though the Dutch duo would be contesting the finish, but Boasson Hagen had other ideas.

As Great Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart and Alex Peters touched wheels and fell out of contention in the group, the Norwegian rode across to Poels and Kruijswijk. The Sky man tried again and again to get away, but the strong headwind in the final kilometres meant that he made no progress.

The final kilometre loomed as Boasson Hagen made his final bid for victory, powering away from the small group of leaders. He made it a further 900 metres in the lead before he was caught, but is still in yellow tonight, his lead over Poels a miniscule second.

It’s the third win of the race for Sky, with the British team sharing every stage with Etixx-QuickStep thus far. With the final weekend made up of two sprint stages, tomorrow’s stage from Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham looks to be the only chance for Poels to overhaul Boasson Hagen for the overall win.

Boasson Hagen lost out on the day but took the yellow jersey (Sweetspot)
Boasson Hagen lost out on the day but took the yellow jersey (Sweetspot)

 

stage result
1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 4:12:22
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:02
3 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:17
4 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step 0:00:18
5 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
6 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
7 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post – Chainreaction
8 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Tinkoff – Saxo
9 Rubén Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Movistar Team
10 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
11 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 0:00:25
12 Alex Peters (GBr) Great Britain
13 Rasmus Christian Quaade (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling 0:00:31
14 Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor
15 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team
16 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin 0:00:35
17 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff – Saxo
18 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Team Cannondale – Garmin
19 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:00
20 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
general classification
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 23:02:36
2 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:01
3 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling 0:00:30
4 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:33
5 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 0:00:37
6 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:38
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step
8 Rubén Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Movistar Team
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
10 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Tinkoff – Saxo
mountains classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 32  pts
2 Mark McNally (GBr) Madison Genesis 29
3 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 29
points classification
1 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 49  pts
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 40
3 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 40
sprints classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 18  pts
2 Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post – Chainreaction 11
3 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto – Soudal 8

Edinburgh – Blyth: a look back

Etixx-QuickStep's new sprint star Gaviria (Sweetspot)
Etixx-QuickStep’s new sprint star Gaviria (Sweetspot)

Etixx-QuickStep’s stagiaire Fernando Gaviria made it two wins from four stages for the Belgian team, showing a great sense of timing to overhaul stage favourite André Greipel on a damp day in Blyth.

It was the Colombian’s fifth win of the season, the third since joining Etixx-QuickStep. Another two came at January’s Tour de San Luis, beating the man who helped him win today, Mark Cavendish.

“Cav put me into position ahead of him,” he said. “And when the sprint began I simply went for it and gave everything I had to win.”

The manner of Gaviria’s victory was impressive, as he came from a long way back in the sprint. Team Sky and Lotto-Soudal had done the lion’s share of the work in the final ten kilometres, with Etixx-QuickStep less prominent on the run-in as they had had Matteo Trentin in the main break of the day.

BMC's Danilo Wyss leads the breakaway (Sweetspot)
BMC’s Danilo Wyss leads the breakaway (Sweetspot)

Four-time Tour de France stage winner André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was the first to hit the front, and it looked as though Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) would be his only competition.

Gaviria had other ideas though, and hopped into Boasson Hagen’s slipstream before speeding past on the outside to ease to victory.

After the stage, Etixx-QuickStep DS Brian Holm had high praise for his team’s new sprint star. “In the Czech Tour he was great. He was like Cav eight years ago,” he said. “He also has a twist of Sagan inside him. He’s fast, fearless and can climb a bit too.”


 

stage result
1 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) Etixx – Quick Step 5:13:08
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto – Soudal
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka
4 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
6 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
7 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
8 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN – Qhubeka
9 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team
10 Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor
general classification
1 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 18:50:12
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:06
3 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team 0:00:12
4 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:13
5 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin
mountains classification
1 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 25  pts
2 Ian Bibby (GBr) NFTO 23
3 Kristian House (GBr) JLT Condor 20
points classification
1 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 44  pts
2 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 40
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 39
sprints classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 9  pts
2 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto – Soudal 8
3 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) An Post – Chainreaction 8

Cockermouth – Kelso: a look back

tob15 s3 sweetspot (2) viviani
Viviani takes win number two (Sweetspot)

Elia Viviani of Team Sky took his second victory in three days at Kelso in the Scottish Borderlands, beating Movistar’s Juan José Lobato to the line in the shadow of Floors Castle. The win is Sky’s 200th victory since the inception of the team back in 2010.

Despite missing out on the stage win, Lobato took over the race lead after Etixx-QuickStep’s Petr Vakoč crashed just outside the 3km to go mark, only a day after taking over the yellow jersey.

The Czech rider looked to be nursing an injury to his left hand as he rolled in ten minutes after Viviani, with teammate Fernando Gaviria at his side. At the time of publication it is unknown whether Vakoč will continue tomorrow.

A six-man break went away within the first 20km, with Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), Matt Cronshaw (Madison-Genesis), Marcin Białobłocki (One Pro Cycling), Aidis Kruopis (An Post-ChainReaction), Johnny McEvoy (NFTO) managing to get away.

The peloton on the road to Kelso (Sweetspot)
The peloton on the road to Kelso (Sweetspot)
Today's finish (Sweetspot)
Today’s finish (Sweetspot)

For the most part it was a rather standard day of racing, though Tyler Farrar sprinting for mountain points raised a few eyebrows. Six minutes was the break’s maximum lead, before the sprinter’s teams started their work at the front of the peloton.

On the descent of Wilton Hill, the second category climb with 40km remaining, the lead group was slimmed down to three. Farrar, Cronshaw and Białobłocki were the lucky trio, pushing onwards to the finish.

It wasn’t to be for the break though. Their lead started to evaporate as Lotto-Soudal and Cannondale-Garmin took on the majority of the pace-setting on the run-in to the finish of the 216km stage. With 3km to go, they were caught and it would come down to a fight between the fastmen.

André Greipel was surprisingly leading out for teammate Jens Debusschere but the Belgian was swamped in the final metres, as IAM’s Sondre Holst Enger sped past with Viviani on his wheel. The Italian timed his sprint to perfection, easing over the line ahead of Lobato and Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep).

Farrar wins the combativity award (Sweetspot)
Farrar wins the combativity award (Sweetspot)

stage result
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 5:08:18
2 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick Step
4 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
6 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS
7 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Team Cannondale – Garmin
8 Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor
9 Alex Peters (GBr) Great Britain
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky
general classification
1 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 13:37:04
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:10
3 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team 0:00:12
4 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:13
5 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale – Garmin
MOUNTAIN CLASSIFICATION
1 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 25  pts
2 Ian Bibby (GBr) NFTO 23
3 Kristian House (GBr) JLT Condor 20
POINTS CLASSIFICATION
1 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 39  pts
2 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 32
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 30

 

SPRINT CLASSIFICATION
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 9  pts
2 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto – Soudal 8
3 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) An Post – Chainreaction 8

 

Clitheroe – Colne: a look back

tob15 s2 sweetspot (1) vakoc
Vakoč takes a solo victory (Sweetspot)

Etixx-QuickStep’s Petr Vakoč took over the lead of the Tour of Britain after a stunning solo victory on the second stage of the race into Colne. The Czech national champion attacked his breakmates with 19km to go, maintaining a small gap over the rampaging peloton all the way to the line.

The World University Champion and second-year pro said after the stage that he didn’t expect the win.

“Normally stages with such a hard start don’t do me any good but I started with really good feelings today,” he said. “When I went I thought somebody would go with me, but it was just me so I pushed as hard as I could.”

“The finish was pretty tough but I still had some energy left. At the end I was imagining that I was doing a bunch sprint,” he joked. “It was a beautiful victory.”

Earlier in the day, Peter Williams (One Pro Cycling) was on the attack once again, keen to secure another combativity awards and another block of cheese. Movistar’s Alex Dowsett, who led the race last year, joined Williams in an attempt to replicate his 2014 success.

Williams earned more cheese for the One Pro Cycling fridge (Sweetspot)
Williams earned more cheese for the One Pro Cycling fridge (Sweetspot)

Dowsett was, however, forced to drop back as the Team Sky-led peloton looked loath to let him go up the road.

The race really got going on the second category climb of Bleara Moor, 100km into the 159km stage. A group of forty riders split away from the main peloton over the top as Williams was caught, with race leader Elia Viviani falling back.

Vakoč attacked on the descent, along with BMC’s Danilo Wyss and Great Britain’s Alex Peters, and the trio were soon joined by Wout Poels (Sky), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal), Rubén Fernández (Movistar) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Garmin).

The lead group never got a gap of more than fifty seconds, but with no race radios there was always a chance they would stay away.

With Tinkoff-Saxo and Lotto-Soudal leading the chase, the 23-year-old seized his moment, holding on to win by seven seconds before collapsing, exhausted, metres after the line.

Movistar’s Juan José Lobato led the peloton home, and perhaps he would’ve triumphed had the Spanish squad put in the work. Edvald Boasson Hagen of MTN-Qhubeka rounded off the podium.

Vakoč after the finish (inthedrops)
Vakoč after the finish (inthedrops)

stage result
1 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step 4:02:22
2 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:07
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:09
4 Rasmus Guldhammer Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick Step
6 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS
7 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto – Soudal
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Esp) Movistar Team
10 Javier Mejias Leal (Esp) Team Novo Nordisk
general classification
1 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step 8:28:41
2 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 0:00:11
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:15
4 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
5 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:18

 

mountains classification
1 Thomas Stewart (GBr) Madison Genesis 23  pts
2 Ian Bibby (GBr) NFTO 20
3 Kristian House (GBr) JLT Condor 20
points classification
1 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Movistar Team 25  pts
2 Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS 22
3 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx – Quick Step 15
sprint classification
1 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 9  pts
2 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto – Soudal 8
3 Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post – Chainreaction 7

On the comeback trail with Taylor Phinney

Phinney with his fans at the Tour of Britain team presentation (Sweetspot)
Phinney with his fans at the Tour of Britain team presentation (Sweetspot)

May 26th 2014 – that was the day Taylor Phinney’s world stood still. Flung into a guardrail while speeding down a descent at the U.S. road race championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the then-23-year-old’s left leg was shattered in two places after a race motorbike attempted to pass him on the inside of a corner.

It was a potentially career-ending injury, but now he’s back. Seemingly back to his best too, with a stage win at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in his native Colorado, only his second race back.

Now he’s in Britain, racing here for the first time, and looking ahead to the World Championships in the USA at the end of the month.

Phinney was in a positive mood after the first stage of the race, which finished in Wrexham. With BMC’s best finisher being Floris Gerts in eleventh, the Coloradan had a different reason for his upbeat attitude.

“There was sweet scenery on the first climb – that climb was very beautiful. I spent the whole way up just looking around,” he says. “It felt like I was on a very fast guided tour of North Wales, which was fun.”

Back to winning ways at the USAPCC in August (Cor Vos)
Back to winning ways at the USAPCC in August (Cor Vos)

While Phinney could spend the first stage of the race admiring the scenery, there are more serious matters up ahead, with stage wins on the agenda for the young squad.

“We don’t necessarily have huge GC ambitions, but we want to get a stage or two,” Phinney says. “So we want to do that however we can make that happen – they’d probably come via breakaways or on the harder days I would guess.”

The team has several options, with Dylan Teuns (top ten last year as a stagiaire) returning. Promising Swiss neo-pro Stefan Küng is also racing, and has already shown his ability on similar terrain with an impressive 25km solo victory at the Tour de Romandie.

At 30-years-old, climber Danilo Wyss is the veteran of the squad, while stagiaire Gerts will get his chance to prove why he deserves to move up from the BMC Development Team for good.

Then there’s Phinney, as hungry as ever, but with his eyes ultimately on a bigger prize.

“I would love to win a stage here, and I think my legs will improve towards the end of the race. That’s how they seem to be these days,” he says. “But in terms of personal goals the Worlds is what I’m looking towards. Obviously with them being in Virginia it means a lot to me.”

Tasting gold in the 2010 U23 TT Worlds (Cor Vos)
Tasting gold in the 2010 U23 TT Worlds (Cor Vos)

Phinney has a varied history with the Worlds, winning the U23 time trial in 2010. Two years later in the senior race he missed out on gold to Tony Martin by six seconds, while his crash meant he wasn’t part of BMC’s winning ride in last season’s team time trial.

Indeed, talk soon turns back to that crash, the crash that threatened Phinney’s career but ultimately caused him to miss fifteen months of racing during his prime. Surely there’s some trepidation coming back to the peloton after such a long time out?

“Actually I wasn’t so nervous, partly because I was racing at home in Utah and Colorado – I’ve always been comfortable in those races,” says Phinney. “It was a fun next step, and coming here is the next step beyond that – the smaller roads, the twists and turns – you know. But I’m just trying to have fun with it.”

“I still have to stay on top of my rehab – my left leg is still a work in progress in terms of regaining the strength, but I’ll just keep on trucking.”

There’s much to say about the cause of his crash too – a subject that has reared its head in recent weeks as Jakob Fuglsang, Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho have all been knocked from their bikes by passing race motorbikes.

Greg Van Avermaet, one of many moto crash victims this season (Cor Vos)
Phinney’s teammate Greg Van Avermaet, one of many moto crash victims this season (Cor Vos)

“I don’t really know how it can be solved you know. It’s been a strange year with all the run-ins with motorcycles,” he says. “Maybe the answer is in the education [of the drivers] or maybe just have less motos on the road.”

“I think the main issue is that we never find out who those people are. It’s like – there’s a human on the moto, it’s not the moto itself. Right now they’re just guys with helmets on and not knowing who they are just kinda dehumanises them.”

So far though, Phinney has stayed out of trouble, and he’s still keen to emphasise the positives of motos in a bike race.

“In races like this we’re really thankful for the motos – with all the road furniture and stuff these guys really help us out and warn us about what’s coming up.”

Face-to-face with a potential early retirement just last year, Phinney is now back in the peloton, back where he belongs. As for this week, well there’s more scenery to take in, but another win would be nice.

Beaumaris – Wrexham: a look back

tob15 s1 sweetspot (2)

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?”

tob15 s1 sweetspot (3) viviani

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.

tob15 s1 sweetspot (6)

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.

tob15 s1 sweetspot (5)

All photos provided by SweetSpot.


stage result
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
general classification
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
sprint classification
1 Conor Dunne (Irl) An Post-ChainReaction 7
2 Peter Williams (GBr) One Pro Cycling 6
3 Kristian House (GBr) JLT-Condor 3
points classification
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 15
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx Quick Step 14
3 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 13