British Cycling - Road Tour of Britain

The Friends Life Tour of Britain 2014 (Press Release)

 

The Friends Life Tour of Britain 2014

 

Stage One                     Sunday 7 September                 Liverpool

Stage Two                     Monday 8 September                 Knowsley to Llandudno

Stage Three                   Tuesday 9 September               Newtown to the Tumble

Stage Four                   Wednesday 10 September         Worcester to Bristol

Stage Five                     Thursday 11 September              Exmouth to Exeter

Stage Six                     Friday 12 September                  Bath to Hemel Hempstead

Stage Seven                 Saturday 13 September              Camberley to Brighton

Stage Eight a               Sunday 14 September                London individual time trial, presented by TfL

Stage Eight b              Sunday 14 September                London circuit race, presented by TfL

 

Stage One Press Release

 

Marcel Kittel wins opening stage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain in Liverpool

 

Issued on behalf of SweetSpot Group

 

Marcel Kittel claimed his fourth win in five races in the UK this year when he took flight under the Liver Birds down the Strand in Liverpool for victory in the opening stage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain.

 

The German outsprinted Nicola Ruffoni and Mark Cavendish in Liverpool, to win the stage and take the race lead and the first Friends Life Yellow Jersey of 2014.

 

The powerful Giant Shimano rider, making his debut in the race, has now tasted success in Belfast at the Giro d’Italia and took two of the three stages held in Britain during the Tour de France Depart as well as this latest win in Liverpool.

 

Kittel outsprinted Ruffoni and Cavendish, although it was Adam Blythe who had led the initial dash for the line, but the NFTO rider faded to finish well down the order.

 

Although finishing third, for Mark Cavendish it was another painful day on British roads in a season where ill fortune has increasingly dogged him. Having already experienced a bizarre delay with a cleat problem on lap three of the 13.8km circuit, he then crashed three laps from the end after he and lead-out man Mark Renshaw were hurrying back to the peloton following a comfort break. Riding in the shadows on a blindingly sunny afternoon they went into the back of a team car and both fell to earth.

 

Both remounted and rode hard to regain contact with the peloton who slowed slightly to ease that process but Renshaw indicated he wouldn’t be able to help at the finish so Cavendish was alone at the death, narrowly beating Garmin Sharp’s Tyler Farrar for fourth.

 

Kittel meanwhile enjoyed a relatively drama free race although his team’s decision to hug the right hand barriers down the finishing straight was perhaps fortuitous thereby missing the disruption down the left caused by Ian Stannard’s spectacular crash, in the closing kilometre.

 

“It was pretty messy but luckily we took the decision to stay right,” said Marcel Kittel following the stage. “To start with I thought perhaps it was the wrong decision – we had  made it earlier in the race – because there were not too many gaps but then there was a crash on the left and that allowed us to move up to the front.

 

“Tom Veelers did a really good job keeping me out of the wind so I could save myself for the sprint and that made it possible. I don’t know how badly Mark [Cavendish] was hurt in the crash I didn’t see it but he still tried to sprint at the end.

 

“It is hard work with just six man teams. We saw that today When Mark crashed and the bunch stopped riding for a while – so we then had to work hard to get the breakaway back, luckily Sky helped us.”

 

Kittel clearly loves the British roads, while if you include his second Giro stage win in Dublin that is now five wins in six races in the UK and Ireland.

 

“I am really happy to see all the fans here and to get a warm welcome, it’s been pretty successful here for me. Maintaining the form has been hard. The season is long, I started at the Tour Down Under in January and here I am at Tour of Britain nine months later. And I will be riding in the Team Time Trial at the World Championships and a couple of races after that.

 

“I have definitely had ups and down. It’s really about keeping fresh and enjoying the time – sometimes I go mountain biking and just having some fun with the team and not to be too serious.”

 

The large Liverpool crowds also had some home success to cheer, with An Post Chain Reaction’s Mark McNally in the day’s break, collecting the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey.

 

“It was a nice day out – I probably had too many friends and relatives out there to count – my girlfriend, the whole gang. The plan was for one of us in the team in the team to go for the breakaway. That always has to be the aim on the first stage.  The first time I let the other guys in the break fight it out for the Sprints and it worked out quite nicely for me in the KOM. It’s local roads for me in Stage Two so I will be up for the breakaway again buts it’s a long week. We will see how it goes”

 

McNally was joined in the break by fellow North West rider Richard Handley, of Rapha Condor JLT andNFTO Pro Cycling’s Jon Mould, plus Bardiani CSF’s Sonny Colbrelli who initiated the break, earning the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award, and the first YodelDirect Sprint Jersey of the week.

 

Speaking afterwards to his Omega Pharma Quick-Step team, Mark Cavendish said; “I was coming back after and I was behind a car. Someone had to stop for a puncture so the car slammed on its brakes, and there was an island in the road. If I went right, I would hit a traffic island, so I went left and I whacked another car. I hit it with my left leg and I was down on the road. I felt immediately a lot of pain on my quadriceps. It took me a lap to come back even because our team car couldn’t assist me immediately because it was on the front. At that point I wasn’t planning to sprint either, it was painful. But after a couple of laps we decided to just try anyway, but sprint seated because I was in pain. I still got third, but it’s a shame because I really wanted to try and win in front of the British public. But accidents like this are a part of cycling and it’s just a matter of bad luck. I really hope that the luck turns in the next days…”

 

Stage Two sees the Friends Life Tour of Britain remain on Merseyside with Knowsley hosting the start of the second day of racing. Riders will then tackle a 200-kilometre day through North

Wales, finishing on Llandudno seafront after a challenging finale, which includes a SKODA King of the Mountains climb on the Great Orme.

 

Stage Two Press Release

 

Renshaw takes stage and Friends Life Yellow Jersey in Llandudno

 

Mark Renshaw sprinted to victory along Llandudno’s seafront Mostyn Crescent, heading Ben Swift and Sam Bennett in a thrilling finale to Stage Two.

 

Renshaw, so often the creator of wins for others, grabbed a much deserved slice of the glory himself in Llandudno with a memorable victory that saw the general classification riders and sprinters mixing it up during a thrilling descent off the Great Orme.

 

As the race swooped along the North Wales coast and down off the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb of the Great Orme, it developed into an entertaining free for all with no sprint trains as such, and for a moment it looked like Swift was heading for line honours. Renshaw, however, sensed from years of experience that the Team Sky man might have gone a bit early and fought for his wheel before unleashing his own devastating finish.

 

The win, Renshaw’s first in Omega Pharma Quick-Step colours, is his second in the Tour of Britain, his first coming in Exmouth, which the race visits this year on Stage Five, in 2011, while consolation for Swift was the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, and second spot overall, just four seconds away from Renshaw’s Friends Life Yellow Jersey.

 

With Mark Cavendish having to take a back seat nursing a huge haematoma on his left thigh after his Stage One crash, Renshaw, along with Niki Terpstra and Michael Kwiatkowski were given a free rein to do whatever felt right hurtling down from the Orme into Llandudno itself.

 

Kwiatkowski, one of the leading GC contenders for the week set the cat among the pigeons by pulling out a lead on the descent but Sire Bradley Wiggins, looking in ominously good form and descending like he did in his Tour de France pomp, effortlessly pulled that back and then did everything possible to keep Ben Swift in contention for the stage.

 

The impressive Kwiatkowski, still going strong, did a good turn by riding in his wheel for as long as possible to ensure that any rider trying to overtake Renshaw would have to go around the long way.

 

Behind Swift came Team NetApp Endura’s Sam Bennett, and Garmin Sharp’s Tyler Farrar, who had also showed his hand on the ascent of the Great Orme.

 

“That was pretty exciting especially that last 5-kilometres, I would imagine it would make pretty good TV,” said a breathless Renshaw afterwards. “Nobody in our team knew the finish so we were going by word of mouth and the road book but it certainly suited me. I’ve got good legs after the Tour de France and was going very well.

 

“It was a shame that Cav crashed yesterday, it would have been the perfect sprint for him in my wheel but he is still trying to recover a bit. It’s pretty amazing he is still in the race really. He had extreme pain today.

 

“It’s great to reward the team with a victory, it’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. It’s a fantastic feeling. Over the years I have learned to get that feeling from helping other riders. I’ve dedicated a big proportion of my career to helping other guys. Not only Cav but Boasson Hagen, Henderson, Griepel, Hushovd – great riders – but it’s always nice to win a race personally.

 

“We were a bit down this morning to be honest. Once again our leader had taken a big hit. Mark is our leader, we are right behind him, we ride the whole season for him. He is one of the biggest champions of the sport. I came to the team to help him 100%. Even when he is not feeling good I will dedicate my efforts to him. Even on a day when he is just at 80% he can win a bike race, he is that kind of rider.”

 

Having once again been at the front of the action, Liverpool’s Mark McNally retained the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, and also picked up the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award.

The An Post Chain Reaction rider had featured in the day’s final breakaway group, also including Ian Bibby, Chris Lawless, Lasse Hansen, Pablo Lastras and Rob Partridge, the latter of whom was in the break through his home town of Wrexham.

 

Once into Conwy county the peloton, led by Sky’s Bernhard Eisel, set about decimating the group’s three minute plus lead, with just Hansen, Lastras and McNally remaining as the race hit the Great Orme, and those trio were soon swallowed up as a succession of riders chose to attack.

 

In the YodelDirect Sprints classification Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani CSF retains the jersey, while Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s successful trip to North Wales was rounded out by taking the lead in the Friends Life Team Classification.

 

Stage Three sees the Friends Life Tour of Britain remain in Wales, with Monmouthshire’s Tumble mountain above Abergavenny set to play host to the first summit finish in the Principality, at the end of a 180-kilometre leg south from Newtown, through Powys.

 

Stage Three Press Release

 

Edoardo Zardini climbs to Friends Life Tour of Britain lead

 

The Friends Life Yellow Jersey changed shoulders for the third consecutive day as Edoardo Zardini claimed victory atop the Tumble mountain above Abergavenny.

 

The Italian was first across the line at the summit, heading Michal Kwiatkowski by nine seconds, with Sir Bradley Wiggins leading in a small group in fifth, a further five seconds back.

 

The win puts the Bardiani CSF into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, giving the team control of two of the jerseys, with teammate Sonny Colbrelli retaining the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey for a third successive day.

 

On a glorious day plucked from mid-summer Zardini attacked from the moment the peloton turned left on the Tumble, one of the toughest climbs in Britain rising 500m in just six kilometres. Neither looking back nor forward but just operating in his own zone Zardini danced rhythmically on his pedals and with the bigger names marking each other soon pulled out an advantage.

 

Having ridden initially with Garmin Sharp’s Jack Bauer from the foot of the climb, Zardini struck on alone, before eventually Nicolas Roche of Tinkoff-Saxo decided to chance his arm and accelerated to join the young Italian and then, hitting a good patch, pulled ahead himself. Just for a moment the Irishman looked to be heading for the stage victory himself but the determined Italian was far from done.

 

Pacing himself nicely Zardini, 24, stormed back in the final two kilometres and took line honours along for probably the best win of his career alongside his win in Stage Two of the Giro del Trentino earlier this year. It also catapulted him into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey.

 

“I live in Verona and today was very like many of the training rides I do around my home in Verona so it suited me fine,” said a delighted Zardini afterwards. “I knew this climb had the reputation of being possibly the best in Britain and it lived up to its reputation. It very tough but for me it was a beautiful climb today.

 

“I was never in trouble when Nicolas came up to join me. After attacking I was pacing my effort because I knew there would be more to do. I let him go past and perhaps I kidded to be tired a little bit but actually I was feeling fine all the time and soon decided to go back on the attack. I felt fantastic and was able to enjoy the moment and all the support of the fans at the top.

 

“We are not a big team but we enjoy taking on the big team and we have had great success. We won three stages of the Giro this year and last year Stefano Pirazzi won the King of the Mountains at the Giro.

 

“We have come here to be aggressive and to race and we will fight hard to defend the jersey. I think we will probably need to try and find some more second somewhere in the other hard stages because obviously riders like Wiggins and Kwiatkowski will be very strong in the Time Trial. It will be difficult but we will try.”

 

Behind Zardini the better known riders were fighting out an enthralling contest on the 179.9km run from Newtown to the top of the Tumble, basically the top of the famous Blorenge Mountain above Abergavenny and Blaenavon.

 

Kwiatkowski finished very strongly nine second behind the Italian while Roche, who at one stage looked certain to pay for his earlier effort, clung on bravely for third place a further two seconds back. Rising Belgian star Dylan Teuns finished next on the same time while Wiggins arrived 14 seconds back behind the winner in fifth place.

 

As usual Wiggins opted to set his own pace and time trial his way up the mountain rather than react to the attacks in front of him and with David Lopez keeping him good company all the way to finish in good shape.

 

His stated aim before the race was always to limit his losses on the Tumble, which he has done, and then work hard towards a possible showdown in the short time-trial on the 8.8km London circuit on Sunday.

 

In the Friends Life General Classiciation contest Kwiatkowski is now second behind Zardini at 13 seconds, Roche third at 17, Teuns a further four second seconds back and Wiggins fifth at 24 along with teammate Lopez.

 

Elsewhere Liverpudlian Mark McNally continued his strong showing to retain the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, while Sonny Colbrelli, also of the triumphant Bardiani CSF team still leads the YodelDirect Sprints jersey. Ben Swift of Team Sky leads the Chain Reaction Cycles Point’s jersey.

Roche’s Tinkoff Saxo teammate Manuele Boaro claimed the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award, having featured in the six rider break, before striking out alone to be caught on the slopes of the Tumble.

 

The Friends Life Tour of Britain returns to Worcestershire after a five-year absence on Stage Four, for a 184.6-kilometre leg from Worcester to Bristol, which culminates with the climb of Bridge Valley Road up to the finish on Clifton Downs.

 

Stage Four Press Release

 

Fourth Friends Life Yellow Jersey in four days as race reaches Bristol

 

A searingly fast finish from Michal Kwiatkowski saw him become the fourth Friends Life Yellow Jersey of the 2014 race, as the Pole won the Worcester to Bristol leg of the race.

 

The Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider took an imperious stage win on the Clifton Downs with a victory that seemingly makes him the man to beat for the overall title at the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain.

 

Starting the day in second place in the Friends Life General Classification, 13 seconds behind Tumble winner Edoardo Zardini, Kwiatkowski appeared on the start line at Worcester in his speedline skin suit. He wanted the stage win and he wanted the ten second time bonus even though it was by no means certain how the testing 185km run from Worcester through Worcestershire and Gloucestershire was going to play out.

 

For a long while it appeared that the remnants of an eight man break might stay away and mop up the bonus seconds but as the peloton gathered pace down the wide open Portway along the Avon Gorge and swung onto the SKODA King of the Mountains climb of Bridge Valley Road they quickly cut into the two minute advantage which had set the GC riders on red alert.

 

Jack Bauer and Albert Timmer though were alert to the threat and attacked hard up the short but fierce Category 2 climb up and for a long while looked set to take the honours in Bristol. Only Nicolas Roche and eventually Kwiatkowski started to chase but with just 250 metres to go it still seemed possible that Bauer, the New Zealander and Timmer, from the Netherlands, might stay away but fatally the slowed little to consider their finishing options.

 

Kwiatkowski, 24, was already travelling at extreme pace around a sweeping right hand bend – it is just possible the leading duo didn’t see him – and as he shot by it suddenly seemed like everybody else was back pedalling. Timmer hung on for second, and the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award, while a fast finishing Dylan Teuns nipped in for third place in front of a tiring Bauer, moving him up to third overall.

 

It was a hugely impressive finish by the fast emerging Polish rider who on this form should be a contender for the World Championship Road Race in Spain later this month on a course that would appear well suited to his particular talent.

 

“It might have looked like I came from nowhere right at the end but we really worked for the win,” said a delighted Kwiatowski who also earned a fine second place during Tuesday’s summit finish on the Tumble. “It was not a ‘classic’ sprint and I certainly didn’t expect such a hard climb at the end.

 

“The attack form Nicolas Roche was really impressive which I followed and I don’t think the two leaders thought we would catch them. I went into the last corner with nobody on my wheel and I was very happy to finish like that. There was some amazing work form my team especially Niki Terpstra and Julien Vermote to close the gap. That was not an easy thing. We took the responsibility for the chase.

 

“The climb was very important. We didn’t really know when the end was coming! I kept pushing and pushing and when I saw the last 1-kilometre sign I remembered that the finish was much flatter so there was still a chance to sprint. What made it difficult today is that you started the climb from nothing because you have that 180 degree turn at the bottom. You take no speed into the climb which is why it was so important to stay out up in the front.”

 

The Friends Life General Classification situation now sees Kwiatkowski lead Zardini by three seconds with Teuns and Roche at 14 second, Movistar Team’s Ion Izagirre at 23 seconds and reigning champion Bradley Wiggins now 27 second behind in sixth position. Although there are three demanding stages before the final day in London the short 8.8k time-trial on Sunday morning is beginning to loom large.

 

“I don’t really know what my time trialling form is like,” insists Kwiatkowski who earlier this year won the Prologue at Tour of Romandie and the individual time trial at the Tour of Algarve. “This is only my second race back from my long break after the Tour de France. I can time trial well but this is pretty short and I don’t know if I am ready for that.

 

“We will see. I should be ready because we at Omega have the team time trial at the World Championships which we are preparing for. I normally like short time-trials but I don’t know how technical the course is in London. We must look. I like them to be technical as possible.”

 

The GC loser on the day would appear to have been Wiggins having allowed the dangerous Kwiatkowski to open up a lead that even the Olympic Time Trial champions might not be able to claw back on Sunday, especially on such a short quickfire route where the non-specialists are much more at home.

 

“It was not the perfect day for us,” admitted DS Nicolas Portal. “We had hoped for a different scenario. We always expected guys like Chavanel and Kwiatkowski would attack, and gain some time.

 

“With three kilometres to go, with that hairpin turn before the climb, our plan was to get there in the first 15. Before the turn it was nearly perfect, but Brad suddenly got lost just before it, so Ben Swift had to do a strong effort to bring him back up. But then there were lots of attacks.

 

“Brad is a good time triallist, but so is Kwiatkowski. We will try to get some bonus seconds back. But there is going to be a big fight for stage wins, Kwiatkowski and Chavanel will be there, they’re both punchy. It’s going to be exciting racing.”

 

Elsewhere Mark McNally of the An Post Chain Reaction team retains his lead of the SKODA King of the Mountains competition while the YodelDirect Sprints jersey moved onto the shoulders of Sebastian Lander of BMC Racing, who spent the day on the front in the breakaway.

Kwiatkowski’s win, along with fine placings in Llanduno and on the Tumble see him usurp Ben Swift in the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, while Tinkoff Saxo lead the Friends Life Team Classification.

 

Thursday sees Devon host its annual Friends Life Tour of Britain stage, the seventh year that the race has visited the county.  Stage Five sees the riders heading from Exmouth to Exeter, via Dartmoor, including the SKODA King of the Mountains climb of Haytor, where last year’s summit finish was held.

 

 

Stage Five Press Release

 

Matthias Brandle takes solo win in Exeter in Friends Life Tour of Britain

 

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.

 

“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.

 

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 break 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.

 

Stage Six Press Release

 

Stunning Alex Dowsett coup rewarded with Friends Life Yellow Jersey

 

Matthias Brandle of IAM Cycling chalked up his second straight stage win, but the story of the day was Movistar Team’s Alex Dowsett blowing the Friends Life 2014 Tour of Britain asunder with the ride of his life in one of the most dramatic ever stages of the modern day race.

 

A trio of Exeter winner Matthias Brandle, Alex Dowsett and Madison Genesis’ Tom Stewart rode in perfect unison for the best part of 160km to dominate the long stage from Bath to Hemel Hempsted, which many had expected to end in a sprint.

 

Through the rural lanes of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire they poured on the power and the pace and cheered on by the biggest crowds of the week the trio prevailed to pull off one of the most stunning coups you will ever see.

 

At the start of the day Dowsett, in 21st position overall at 1 minute 25 seconds behind, was seemingly out of contention for the Friends Life General Classification honours, although there was every chance he would climb a fair few places in Sunday’s short time-trial which suits him perfectly.

 

The Essex rider, 25, has looked strong all week and but for a double puncture when pressing hard in the break on Stage Four might well have featured much higher up the rankings before now.

 

Equally Brandle, in relaxed mode after winning in Exeter on Thursday and trailing the Friends Life Yellow Jersey of Michal Kwiatkowski by 2 minutes 35 seconds, felt able to try something spectacular and not count the cost should it fail. As for Stewart, the Yorkshire man featured strongly in the break on the Tumble stage on Tuesday and when he suddenly found himself in such elite company so early in the stage he just strapped in and hung on for dear life, buoyed no doubt by the local knowledge of team manager Roger Hammond.

 

Whether it was because the leaders were absorbed with marking each other, tired from an unexpectedly brutal week or were mindful of a very tough 227-kilometre run from Camberley to Brighton tomorrow, they allowed to go out way beyond what the peloton would normally allow such talented riders.

 

Five minutes, seven minutes, nine minutes and finally nine minutes 15 seconds at 82km from home. The lead grew and grew and by the time the peloton realised that the trio were not noticeably tiring it was too late. At which point there was a massive red alert and panic.

 

Omega Pharma Quick-Step blew themselves to pieces riding for Kwiatkowski with Mark Cavendish and Niki Terpstra burying themselves on the Chiltern climbs. At one stage members of other teams were hand slinging the seemingly tireless Julien Vermote to try and get him to the front to reinforce the chase, which was a remarkable sight.

 

Team Sky were shorthanded but also sent Ben Swift up the front on a do or die mission to trying a claw back some of the time and eventually Bardiani CSF, the team of second place Edoardo Zardini, bent their backs. But it was all too late. The escape was well and truly away

 

“I’m in the form of my life but that was the hardest day of my life,” admitted Dowsett afterwards. “It was into a headwind most of the day and once I got into the break I was actually a bit hacked with myself to be honest because I had always thought I might have a good time-trial on Sunday and I was leaving a lot out there on the road. I thought I thought I might have given too much.

 

“But then the gap went up to seven minutes and I thought, that’s getting quite big. Then it went to eight minutes, nine minutes, and finally topped out at a bit over nine minutes. That’s when I really started digging in and a bit later I sort of made an agreement with Mathias that he could win the stage as it looked like there was a good chance of taking yellow.

 

“It was a risk I was willing to take. And he gave me absolute everything, I couldn’t have done it without him and Tom at Madison probably had one of the hardest days of his life, he gave everything he could and I’m grateful to him and Roger Hammond in the car for his advice with his local knowledge, telling us exactly what was coming up. I was very grateful for that.

 

“For the last 100-kilometres, I was more or less flat out. I was buckling in the last 5-kilometres and I was relying heavily on Matthias. Before the Commonwealths, I was doubting myself a lot. So this is more proof to me that I’m able to compete at this level.

 

“It was also great to see all my family at the finish, it was a complete surprise, I didn’t expect to see any of them until the finish in Brighton. It was some day.”

 

Dowsett now has the Friends Life Yellow Jersey and a 34 second lead over second placed Kwiatkowski and with the two riders probably fairly evenly matched on the time-trial – Dowsett might just be favourite to edge that one – a huge mount now depends on the monster Sussex stage finishing in Brighton, which features two Category One SKODA King of the Mountains climbs in the last 17-kilometres – Ditchling Beacon and the sharp ramp of Bear Road up to the racecourse.

 

Much will depend on how his team mates can react to the various attacks that will inevitably come but Movistar Team arrived at the Friends Life Tour of Britain determined to challenge for overall honours and have supported Dowsett with a versatile team – Giovanni Visconti, Pablo Lastras, Sylvester Szmyd, Ion Izaguirre and Enrique Sanz Unze – capable of mounting a strong defence of the Friends Life Yellow Jersey.

 

“I will give it everything I have got. Obviously Kwiatkowski is going like a train so I need to rest up as much as I can and give it my all tomorrow and in the time-trial. It’s a nice positon to be in though.”

 

Saturday sees the penultimate stage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, and the modern Tour’s first visit to Sussex, for a leg starting from Camberley, in Surrey Heath, through West and East Sussex before the finish on Brighton’s Maderia Drive.

 

 

Stage Seven Press Release

 

Friends Life Yellow Jersey changes hands in Brighton, as Julien Vermote wins stage

 

The drama continued in the Friends Life Tour of Britain as the Friends Life Yellow Jersey changed hands yet again, as the end of a thrilling stage to Brighton, won by Julien Vermote.

 

A trio of testing SKODA King of the Mountains climbs in the final 60-kilometres took their toll on the peloton, and Friends Life Yellow Jersey Alex Dowsett in particular, with the Movistar Team rider losing 2 minutes 34 seconds and falling to tenth place overall.

 

Garmin Sharp’s Dylan Van Baarle held on from the break to take third, behind Ignatas Konovalovas, but more importantly to become the sixth Friends Life Yellow Jersey of the week, taking a 19-second lead over Michal Kwiatowski into the final stage.

 

At the head of the stage it was Vermote, with the Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider attacking from the break on Ditchling Beacon and soloing to victory on Brighton’s Madeira Drive.

 

With the race behind splitting to pieces, it was an attack from Vermote’s teammate Kwiatkowski, also on Ditchling Beacon, that detached Dowsett and sent a 22-rider group away, including the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Nicolas Roche and Edoardo Zardini.

 

Dowsett, assisted by Giovanni Visconti, chased, but in vain and with no further help, as the Bear Road climb and fast descent to the finish prevented them from regaining contact.

 

Vermote was able to win alone, with Konovalovas and Van Baarle following him home, before Kwiatkowski led in the group for fourth, rejigging the Friends Life General Classification dramatically.

 

Speaking afterwards on his dramatic rise into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, Van Baarle said, “I possibly went under the radar a bit I was still I think 14th in GC but they don’t know my name for now, and hopefully they will remember me.

 

“I’m 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.

 

“I started to think we might do it when we had ten minutes in the break. Then some DS said there were only two Movistar guys riding and then we held the pace really high. Then Julien [Vermote] said he wasn’t going to ride anymore because OPQS are chasing. At that moment me and Konovalovas went full gas to the finish line.

 

“Before the start of this race I knew that I wanted to show my name a little bit, show myself maybe get a top ten or top fifteen but I didn’t expect to be wearing the yellow jersey. Now I’m thinking about the podium or maybe winning.

 

“I like the short prologue distances for time-trial. I’m not a Wiggins that needs 50km or whatever. I’m more a prologue specialist. I will do my best and we will see what happens tomorrow. I don’t know how the legs will feel tomorrow for the other guys and it will be hard tomorrow.”

 

Van Baarle’s nearest challenger is Kwiatkowski, with the Polish time trial champion 19 seconds in arrears

 

“As you see, it’s hard racing here at Tour of Britain! The peloton couldn’t control this breakaway. Luckily we had a strong Julien Vermote there. He really deserves this win. He pulled so much for us, for me every single day and today he took a beautiful victory. Congratulations to him. We’re really happy about it.

 

“Of course, I wanted to also take back the yellow jersey but Van Baarle was still in front. It’s hard to control everything in a race. We accelerated on the second-to-last climb and dropped Dowsett, but it was hard to close the gap on the group between Vermote and us. But OK, I’m only 19″ down. There is the time trial tomorrow which I said earlier in this race that it would be important, even if it’s short. Anything can happen. I have done well on short time trials like the one of tomorrow. So we will see. But today we are going to celebrate the big victory of Julien.”

 

Having received the congratulations of his Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates, including Mark Cavendish, immediately after the line, 25-year-old Vermote admitted he hadn’t been expect the result.

 

“I’m pretty surprised I had the energy for a breakaway win to be honest. Only one day this week I didn’t ride at the front of the peloton because five days out of the six I was pulling for either Kwiatkowski or Cav. I had given my all every time but every day I seem to have recovered well and I have felt very strong.

 

“Today we didn’t mention me getting in the break at the team meeting but at the beginning of the stage Kwia rode up to me and said maybe it would be a good idea for me to get in the break if I was able. He thought that perhaps I would then be in a position to help him in the final stages if the peloton caught the break.

 

“I got in the break and I immediately felt good and when out lead went to ten minutes I remembered from the previous day how hard it is to chase down a break like that. We rode very well as a group but at 140-kilometres I stopped contributing because still my main thought was Kwia for GC back in the peloton. Anyway when we rode through the second last climb it was clear we would stay away so I started to ride full gas again and then I really wanted to win. I know my place in the team with all the great riders we have, I love to help them, but also I like to ride to get one victory for the team as well

 

“My teammates were so happy for me after the finish and it shows that the work I do for all of them, and the team, includes big rewards for myself too.”

 

In addition to the stage win, Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s third of the week, Vermote also took the Stage Seven Rouleur Combativity Award.

 

Reacting to losing the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, Dowsett said afterwards; “I was disappointed. I thought I woke up feeling pretty fresh, but as soon as we hit those climbs, I knew I was suffering. I got as much food down my neck as I could, and looked after myself as best as I could. The team were amazing today, it’s difficult because we had three guys up there on GC. With the finish being as hard as it was, we knew we needed a back-up plan. We didn’t want to be using Giovanni [Visconti] or [Ion] Izaguirre to work. But the gap to the break went out so much, and the other teams said if you don’t put one more guy up there, we won’t help. Visco had to do a lot of work late on, he tried to help me save it.

 

“It’s been a good week. Hopefully I’ll have a good TT tomorrow. One minute is a lot to make up in 8km. I’ve worn yellow, and when I came into yesterday I didn’t expect that. It’s been a nice race, Friends Life have put a lot of effort into thiss, and Mick Bennett has produced one of the best Tour of Britain’s yet.”

 

Elsewhere An Post Chain Reaction rider Mark McNally sealed the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, with a 21-point lead over double stage winner Matthias Brandle. The Liverpudlian, who took the jersey in his home city on Stage One, still has to finish the London stages, but with no categorised SKODA King of the Mountains climbs, McNally is poised to keep the jersey for the entire week.

 

The destination of the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey, sponsored by parcel delivery company Yodel, will be decided in London, on lap five of the final circuit race, with just current wearer Sebastian Lander of BMC Racing and Dowsett in contention.  The Movistar Team rider is two points behind the Dane, with three points for the winner of the final YodelDirect Sprint.

 

The Friends Life Tour of Britain concludes in central London on Sunday, with a split stage including an 8.8 kilometre individual time trial before the traditional ten lap circuit race.

 

Great Britain’s Chris Lawless will get the time trial underway at 11:01, with riders heading off at one-minute intervals, including Steve Cummings at 11:52 and Mark Cavendish at 12:05, before the top ten riders go at two-minute intervals, led by Alex Dowsett at 12:39, with Friends Life Yellow Jersey Dylan Van Baarle last off at 12:57.

 

 

Stage Eight Press Release

 

Dylan Van Baarle clinches overall Friends Life Tour of Britain victory

 

Garmin Sharp’s Dylan Van Baarle clinched overall victory at the Friends Life Tour of Britain, as Marcel Kittel book ended the race with a stage victory in central London.

 

The Giant Shimano rider outsprinted Mark Cavendish on Whitehall in the sprint battle that British spectators had been waiting all week to see, with Kittel just edging Cavendish, ahead of Italian Nicola Ruffoni.

 

Behind Van Baarle crossed the line in 29th position to seal overall victory by ten seconds over Michal Kwiatkowski, who also took the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, with Sir Bradley Wiggins taking third overall, 22 seconds down, having won the morning’s 8.8-kilometre individual time trial.

 

Wiggins had taken victory in the time trial ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and Steve Cummings, clocking a 9:50:71 around the London circuit.  Meanwhile Van Baarle finished eleventh, 25 seconds back, ceding just nine seconds to sixth placed Kwiatkowski.

 

With a lead of ten seconds in the Friends Life General Classification, only disaster or a freak result in the sprint finish would prevent the Dutchman keeping hold of the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, and that’s how it proved.

 

“I didn’t really win the race today, – won it in Brighton yesterday,” said Dylan Van Baarle afterwards. “It was tough to defend my jersey in a time trial against Kwiatkowski but I did it and I’m very happy, I will remember this day for my whole life.

 

“I like these kind of stage races very much – not too long – but at the start of the week when I saw the list of riders, guys like Wiggins and Kwiatkowski I knew it was going to be very hard. I was hoping for perhaps top ten.

 

“It’s been a very hard race, the roads are heavy, lots of little steep climbs but also the six man teams is a factor. It makes it really exciting as we saw in the stage of Alex Dowsett on Friday when the peloton were pulling and pulling and could not catch the break. That ride inspired me a little bit for our break on Saturday.

 

“In the future I would like to develop into a Classics rider – Roubaix and Flanders – and also races like this. I am probably too heavy to be a Grand Tour rider!”

 

Come the final sprint and the Giant Shimano team reeled in the final attempts at another breakaway victory, keeping the pace high along Victoria Embankment and setting things up perfectly for Kittel. With Cavendish’s Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates also at the fore, the Manxman was perfectly positioned on Kittel’s wheel, but could only get alongside the German on the dash up Whitehall, as the first three riders crossed the line spread across the full width of the road.

 

Despite an early attack on lap one, Alex Dowsett couldn’t stay away in his bid to take the points at the single YodelDirect Sprint on lap five and overall erstwhile leader Sebastian Lander, with the Dane’s BMC Racing teammate Steve Cummings taking the YodelDirect Sprint from the break, to prevent him losing the jersey.

 

An Post Chain Reaction’s Mark McNally finished safely in the pack to confirm his hold on the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey.

 

Two of the week’s most prominent riders also made an appearance on the London podium, with double-stage winner Matthias Brandle joining his IAM Cycling team colleagues as winners of the Friends Life Team Classification, and Alex Dowsett taking the overall Rouleur Combativity Award for the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain.

 

Chris Latham was the final daily Rouleur Combativity Award winner, take the cheese for the London stage presented by Transport for London.

 

Jerseys

 

The Friends Life Yellow Jersey :                    45 –   VAN BAARLE Dylan     GRS

 

Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey :            74 –   KWIATKOWSKI Michal     OPQ

 

SKODA King of the Mountains Jersey :        172 –   MCNALLY Mark     SKT

 

Yodel Direct Sprints Jersey :                          163 –   LANDER Sebastian     BMC

 

Overall Top Fifty

 

1         45  VAN BAARLE Dylan                            GRS  32:22:50

2         74  KWIATKOWSKI Michal                       OPQ  10

3         1  WIGGINS Bradley                                   SKY  22

4         114  ZARDINI Edoardo                               BAR  37

5         191  ROCHE Nicolas                                    TCS  42

6         105  IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI Jon             MOV  46

7         11  CHAVANEL Sylvain                             IAM  50

8         102  DOWSETT Alex                                   MOV  54

9         142  BARTA Jan                                           TNE  01:09

10       165  TEUNS Dylan                                                   BMC  01:10

11        6  LOPEZ GARCIA David                         SKY  01:11

12       15  REICHENBACH Sébastien                   IAM  ST

13       54  KONOVALOVAS Ignatas                     MTN  01:19

14       194  JUUL JENSEN Christopher                  TCS  01:24

15       31  GEOGHEGAN HART Tao                    GBR  01:52

16       193  SUTHERLAND Rory                                       TCS  01:53

17       115  BONGIORNO Francesco Manuel        BAR  01:59

18       65  LAMPIER Steve                                     VGR  02:06

19       121  BOULO Matthieu                                 RAL  02:13

20       41  BAUER Jack                                           GRS  02:16

21       101  VISCONTI Giovanni                            MOV  02:44

22       131  NORDHAUG Lars-Petter                     BEL  03:16

23       73  GOLAS Michal                                                   OPQ  03:31

24       56  HNIK Karel                                             MTN  03:41

25       4  SWIFT Ben                                                  SKY  ST

26       24  HANDLEY Richard                               RCS  03:42

27        2  HENAO GOMEZ Sebastian                    SKY  04:42

28       93  HOLOHAN Liam                                   MGT  05:18

29       135  TANKINK Bram                                   BEL  05:39

30       53  VAN NIEKERK Dennis                         MTN  05:41

31       61  BIALOBLOCKI Marcin                         VGR  05:45

32       16  PINEAU Jérôme                                      IAM  06:10

33       111  BATTAGLIN Enrico                            BAR  07:14

34       141  KÖNIG Leopold                                   TNE  07:29

35       125  CHRISTIAN Mark                                RAL  09:15

36       96  PETERS Alex                                         MGT  10:46

37       14  BRANDLE Matthias                               IAM  10:47

38       176  DOULL Owain                                     SKT  11:58

39       164  ZABEL Rick                                         BMC  12:37

40       12  HAUSSLER Heinrich                             IAM  13:29

41       71  CAVENDISH Mark                                OPQ  13:42

42       104  SZMYD Sylvester                                MOV  14:03

43       146  VOSS Paul                                             TNE  16:13

44       136  WYNANTS Maarten                             BEL  16:21

45       76  VERMOTE Julien                                   OPQ  16:27

46       13  ISTA Kevin                                             IAM  16:28

47       75  TERPSTRA Niki                                     OPQ  18:33

48       183  STAMSNIJDER Tom                                       GIA  18:39

49       124  KNEISKY Morgan                               RAL  19:33

50       103  LASTRAS GARCIA Pablo                  MOV  20:25

 

All above press releases are Issued on behalf of SweetSpot Group

 

The Friends Life Tour of Britain Website

 

Contributor to http://www.cyclingshorts.uk.com/

 

My photos are regularly updated on https://www.flickr.com/photos/23913935@N07/