Archive for the ‘tour of britain’ Category

So, it’s been a while since I last put up a post here on Sweat ‘n Gears. The past few months I have been with work – a new international role that I have. As such, finding time to work on the blog has been a little hard. But making the most of a day off from work, I thought I would write up a few posts.

Last week saw the 10th edition of The Tour of Britain take place. The race had many big names take part including the likes of Mark Cavendish, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, and Garmin’s Dan Martin, to name but a few. And on Sunday the race concluded with Bradley Wiggins taking the overall honours!

One video from the event that really caught my attention was this one from the AN Post Chain Reaction team. It stems from the day Sam Bennett took the win on Stage 5. You can see (and feel) team manager, Kurt Bogaerts, well up with emotion when he hears that Sam took the win.  Enjoy the clip!

Well, it’s been a full year since The Tour of Britain was last here. And this year’s event did not disappoint. From the outset each stage tested the strength and determination of each team and by stage 3, they were moaning non-stop at how hard it was. So different from the 2009 event where they were moaning at how easy the race was. Seems which ever way the organiser’s take it, they just can’t win.  Oh, and don’t get me started on the home-based fans. When will they get it in their silly little heads that it’s an 8 day event. This means there are not enough days to get around the whole country. In order to do that, the ToB’s event status would need to increase (to maybe even ProTour) and take in at least two weeks of racing. Maybe then each and every town and region could be visited by The Tour. But until the UCI decides otherwise, the event is going to stay an 8-day race.

Anyway, this year I was lucky enough to get an invitation to the finish in Glastonbury for the 176km stage 5. The previous day’s stage was the hardest of the 2010 Tour, so they boys legs were going to be tired in the run into Glastonbury. For the full race report for Stage 5, click here.

Now, as I had a very cosy spot right by the finish line, I tried my best to take pictures of the riders as they came by. Here’s what I managed to get:

Glastonbury stage finish for The Tour of Britain

Dean Downing from Rapha Condor Sharp

The Honda lead car coming through the finish

Marco Frapporti

Marco Frapporti

Bradley Wiggins blowing a kiss to the crowd in celebration of his second place

Michael Golas

Pieter Ghyllebert

Garmin - Transitions' Dan Martin

Ronan Van Zandbeek

The bunch sprint

Stephen Cummings

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas

Cervelo's Dan Lloyd and Roger Hammond

Jeremy Hunt

Mark Renshaw

Mark Renshaw

HTC-Columbia's Mark Renshaw

Kit Gilham

Garmin's Cameron Meyer

Podium Girls' Lauren and Anna

Marco Frapporti

Michael Golas

Michael Albasini

Michael Albasini

By Peter Hodges

HTC – Columbia celebrate double success in London, as national Tour finishes on a high

The final podium at the 2010 Tour of Britain

Team HTC – Columbia celebrated winning The Tour of Britain in style as Andre Greipel took his third stage win of The Tour while Michael Albasini confirmed his overall victory to seal the Yellow Jersey presented by Bikeability.

Greipel took victory in the finishing sprint of The Tour, heading home Lucas Sebastien Haedo and Britain’s Roger Hammond in Newham to ensure that his HTC – Columbia team take four stage wins plus the overall prize from The Tour of Britain.

The Tour of Britain sprint finish in the Olympic and Paralympic Borough of Newham

In the General Classification standings, Greg Henderson used the time bonuses available at the intermediate Sprints to leapfrog Richie Porte and move into third spot overall, though at the top there was no change with Swiss rider Albasini holding onto his one minute and five second advantage over Borut Bozic of the Vacansoleil team.

Michael Albasini celebrates

Henderson also sealed victory in The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey thanks to his fourth place in the bunch sprint, while Michal Golas kept hold of the Sprints Jersey, which the Vacansoleil team added to the King of the Mountains Jersey won by Johnny Hoogerland, who immediately after the finish donated his race jersey and numbers to The Prostate Cancer Charity.

Taking the honours of top British rider was Rob Partridge of Endura Racing in eighth place, two minutes thirty two second back, while Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta came sixth in the standings to take the honours as best of the five British domestic UCI Continental teams in The Tour, head of ProTour opposition like Garmin – Transitions.

Kicking off proceedings before the grand finale of The Tour of Britain was The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride, which saw cyclists and celebrities ‘UniteByCycling’ to enjoy the Newham circuit in sunny conditions to take on the challenge of Stage Eight while helping to combat prostate cancer.

Speaking at the final stage of The Tour of Britain, John Neate, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, explains: “It was fantastic to see almost 1,000 amateur cyclists warming up the tarmac for the pros in the final stage of The Tour of Britain.  Almost 4,000 people across the UK have united behind the cause on two wheels to measure themselves against the cycling elite. We are incredibly pleased to be partnered with The Tour of Britain and we hope to build the success of these unique sportive events further next year.”

Cyclists get a further chance to ride a Tour of Britain stage on Sunday 26th September, when The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride takes place at Stoke-on-Trent over the tough of Stage Two of The Tour.  To find out more visit www.tourride.co.uk

Racing in sunny conditions and in front of large crowds on the 12 kilometre circuit was fast from the drop of the flag, by Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, with AN Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team’s Matt Brammeier being particularly active.

The Irish National Champion was soon on the attack by himself, spending the first couple of laps out front alone before he was caught by a strung out peloton.  For that move, plus his part in a later breakaway, Brammeier earned himself the day’s Honda Combativity Award for the stages’ most aggressive rider.

Brammeier was reeled in by the Sky led peloton in time for Henderson to snatch victory at the opening hot spot Sprint, moving him level on time with Porte.  Two laps later and Henderson once again headed the field as they sprinted for the line, elevating himself onto the podium at the expense of the Australian.

A more sizeable break then got away, instigated by Cervelo’s Jeremy Hunt, who circulated alone at first before being joined by Brammeier, Tom Barras, Peter Williams and Wouter Sybrandy.  The quintet worked well together to build up a 30 second lead, but with HTC – Columbia and Sky on the front of the main field working for Greipel and Henderson the advantage was never going to be maintained.

Once reeled in the peloton could set itself up for the finishing sprint, taking in one final high speed tour of Newham, London’s Olympic and Paralympic Borough before turning onto the long, straight finishing line.

Bursting through to take his third win of The Tour was Greipel, who adds victory in London to wins in Blackpool and Great Yarmouth.  Behind Haedo enjoyed another good day in the sprints, with Hammond taking third to end his home Tour on a high note.

Team HTC - Columbia celebrate their victory

Stage Eight Results

1) Andre Greipel                            Team HTC – Columbia               1h 57m 07s

2) Lucas Sebastien Haedo             Team Saxo Bank                       @ same time

3) Roger Hammond                       Cervelo Test Team                     @ same time

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Matt Brammeier       AN Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team

Final General Classification standings (after eight stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               29h 23m 47s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 05s

3) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  @ 1m 10s

Final Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after eight stages)

1) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  74pts

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    68pts

3) Koen de Kort                            Skil – Shimano                          50pts

Final King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after eight stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    56pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    31pts

Final Sprints Jersey standings (after eight stages)

1) Michal Golas                             Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    34pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       22pts

3) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  21pts

Final Team General Classification (after eight stages)

1) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team                88h 08m 02s

2) Sky Professional Cycling Team              @ 6m 15s

3) Team Saxo Bank                                   @ 24m 42s

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!

By Peter Hodges

Vacansoleil win again, as Michael Albasini enters final stage with a minutes lead over rivals, while ‘Tour de France’ style crowds great The Tour of Britain in Suffolk and Essex

Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) taking stage 7 honours

The Vacansoleil team took their second stage win of The Tour of Britain, as Borut Bozic sprinted to victory on East Hill in Colchester, as the gradient took its toll ensuring just Greg Henderson could stay with the Slovenian rider as they reached the line.

With the drag to the line causing splits in the field, Bozic and Henderson came in three seconds up on third placed man Richie Porte, with the leading trio all collecting time bonuses to add to their advantage over race leader Michael Albasini, who came in 20th in a group 11 seconds down on the winner.

That means that Albasini now holds the Yellow Jersey presented by Bikeability by 1 minute and 5 seconds from Bozic, with Porte a further nine seconds back and Henderson two more in arrears.

The Swiss rider, who won Stage Three into Swansea on Monday, spoke after the stage of his relief at having safely negotiated the final road stage of The Tour, with just London’s circuit race remaining.

“I was always looking forward to this moment, normally in the last stage not so much happens and it should be a bunch sprint.  I am happy to still have the Yellow Jersey.  Three days ago I wasn’t so sure to bring it this far when we had just four riders in the race.

“It’s perfect now with three stage wins and hopefully also the yellow at the end in London.”

The 29-year-old though isn’t going to celebrate early, saying, “The last stage is always hard, you have to keep the concentration and it’s only over when it’s over.”

Friday’s stage was characterised by a long breakaway containing Sigma Sport – Specialized’s Tom Murray and Pieter Jacobs, which went away after 21 miles of racing.  For the second day running in the East of England massive crowds turned out to welcome The Tour of Britain to Suffolk and Essex, with sunshine and good weather greeting the riders for the start in Bury St Edmunds.

The peloton making its wat through Sudbury

With Team Sky a constant presence at the front of the peloton, the break’s lead only just rose above three minutes at its greatest, before steadily being slashed as The Tour reached Essex just after passing through Sudbury and climbing Ballingdon Hill, both described as being the scene of ‘Tour de France style crowds’, by experienced cycling journalists after the race.

With 25 kilometres of racing to go, Murray had no response when Jacobs sensed him slowing and attacked, leaving the British to be swallowed up by the peloton.  Ahead the Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator rider persevered on alone, before being caught with five kilometres remaining on the outskirts of Colchester.  But with an uphill drag to the line awaiting it wasn’t going to be conventional bunch gallop, as Bozic and Henderson crested the rise ahead, with the Slovenian coming through to take the win, much to his and his teammates joy.

Speaking afterwards, former Vuelta a Espana stage winner Borut Bozic said, “For me this is a big victory because there are a lot of good riders here.  It doesn’t matter where it is; every race is hard to win.”

Bozic also commented on his team, who have featured prominently throughout The Tour, saying, “We are a good team and we help each other a lot.  There is also, as you can see, a good team spirit.”

Teammate Johnny Hoogerland sealed the overall King of the Mountains and now just has to finish Stage Eight to claim the polka dot jersey, and spoke afterwards of his happiness to take a jersey, although his overall aspirations have not come to fruition.

“Yesterday I was pretty sure of the jersey”, said the Dutchman, “But with today it could have happened that 15 riders had gone with Richie (Porte) and stolen the points, so you never know.

“During the last few stages I have been taking the most points, but it was on the fourth stage when I took the jersey that it was good for me.  I’m very happy to bring it home.

Hoogerland also praised The Tour of Britain’s route, saying, “You always have hilly and flat stages so I think it’s normal.  They could have stayed in the South West the whole week, but I think that’s not fair for the sprinters!  For me, two extra stages in the South West would probably have been better, and then maybe Albasini wouldn’t have got his jersey still.

“Some teams are probably less motivated because it is only a 2.1 category race, but for us they are all big races.  I looked at the programme for September and I said ‘I want to do The Tour of Britain’, because I think it’s a beautiful race.”

The Vacansoleil rider also praised Suffolk and Essex for their role in hosting Stage Seven of the race, explaining, “There are a lot of people!  It was actually more beautiful than I expected, because in every village there are fans, I think all the schools are empty for the race, and it’s lovely to be here.”

The peloton going through Suffolk

The final stage of The Tour of Britain takes place in Newham, London’s Olympic and Paralympic Borough, with a 96 kilometre circuit race around the historic Royal Dockyards and London’s ExCeL Centre.

Before the racing gets underway and the winner of the 2010 Tour of Britain is crowned amateur cyclists will have the chance to take part in the second of this year’s Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Rides, offering the unique opportunity to ride an official stage of The Tour in London.

The Tour of Britain is in the second year of its successful partnership with The Prostate Cancer Charity, who are sponsoring the coveted blue Points Jersey, currently worn by Team Sky’s Greg Henderson.

Mark Bishop, Director of Fundraising at the Charity, said: “By turning the Points Jersey blue, we are demonstrating the commitment of each party to this partnership which has proved hugely beneficial.

“Our first of three events this month went exceptionally well last weekend, in the South West. We believe the unique proposition of riding in the tracks of the pros has added something fresh and credible to the sportive calendar.

“Through the partnership, we have been able not only to raise awareness of prostate cancer in the men we are trying to reach – but given all cyclists something challenging and active to do to support the cause.”

Cyclists get a further chance to ride a Tour of Britain stage on Sunday 26th September, when The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride takes place at Stoke-on-Trent over the tough of Stage Two of The Tour.  To find out more visit www.tourride.co.uk

Stage Seven Results

1) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling             3h 24m 15s

2) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  @ same time

3) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 3s

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Pieter Jacobs         Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator

General Classification standings (after seven stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               27h 26m 40s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 05s

3) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 14s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after seven stages)

1) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  62pts

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    57pts

3) Koen de Kort                            Skil – Shimano                          50pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after seven stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    56pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    31pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after seven stages)

1) Michal Golas                             Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    31pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       20pts

3) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    16pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!

By Peter Hodges

Andre Greipel takes second stage win in Great Yarmouth

Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) takes the stage win into Great Yarmouth

Andre Greipel sprinted to his second stage win of The Tour of Britain, heading Borut Bozic and Lucas Sebastien Haedo across the line.  Greipel’s teammate Michael Albasini continues to hold the race lead, though his advantage was cut by two seconds to 1 minute 26 seconds, as Bozic moved up into second in the overall standings thanks to time bonuses gained during the stage.

Despite losing two members of their six rider team to illness, Team HTC – Columbia still managed to provide Greipel with the perfect leadout, as Mark Renshaw set up the German to take the win in Great Yarmouth.

The longest stage of the race saw The Tour make its first ever visit to Norfolk since its re-birth in 2004, with huge crowds all along the route as local communities and businesses across the county came together to support Britain’s biggest professional cycle race.

After a rousing send off from the crowds gathered in King’s Lynn’s Tuesday Market Place, riders headed out to the north Norfolk coast via the Sandringham Estate, where Johnny Hoogerland took the honours at the intermediate Sprint, ahead of Vacansoleil teammate, and Sprints competition leader, Michal Golas.

Out in front for much of the day was Cameron Meyer, who earned the Honda Combativity Award for his long breakaway, initially in the company of Jeremy Hunt, before the Brit sat up leaving the Garmin – Transitions rider briefly alone.

Meyer was soon joined by Team Saxo Bank’s Jaroslav Marycz out front, with the duo building an eight minute lead as they rode through the Norfolk countryside, being greeted by crowds at every town and village they passed through, with particularly large crowds welcoming The Tour to Norwich midway through the stage.

With Team Sky working hard on the front of the peloton to reduce the deficit as they sought to set up Greg Henderson for a second stage win the gap began to steadily decrease, with just a 2 minute 35 second advantage remaining with 25 kilometres to go.

Fifteen kilometres to go and the advantage was south of one minute, and as they approached Great Yarmouth Meyer opted to go it alone, shedding Marcyz as he made his way into the finish town.  The Australian though was caught inside the final two kilometres, as Team HTC – Columbia came to the front with Bert Grabsch and Mark Renshaw, piloting Greipel through the final couple of corners and safely onto the long finishing boulevard.

The large awaiting crowds at the stage finish in Great Yarmouth

As the field snaked out of the final turn, Greipel burst past Renshaw to cross the line first, taking his second victory at a British seaside resort in six days, after his opening leg win in Blackpool on Saturday.

Speaking after the stage, winner Andre Greipel said that despite the flatness of the profile it was still another tough day in the saddle, describing the stage as “hard!”

“We were not so fresh at all with just four riders left in the race, so it was quite a good powerful beginning to the stage for the team.  We tried to keep the breakaway as small as possible as we were all pretty tired from the last two days.

“We were happy that just two riders were away and we could sit on as the other riders chased the breakaway down.  At the end we were focused on the sprint, and Bert Grabsch and Mark Renshaw gave me a really good position, and quite a good leadout from Mark.  I think we can be really happy with this victory.

“Sky had to chase the breakaway down, so there was no one left to do the leadout, so we were just sitting on and with two kilometres to go we went, and that’s how it was.

Greipel also spoke about the loss of teammates Tony Martin and Marco Pinotti to illness, praising the German, who has worked so hard for race leader Albasini, in particular, saying, “Tony is like a locomotive, once he is riding his bike as fast as possible, he never can stop so this is a really big thing that we lost him.  I hope we are able to defend the jersey until London.”

One of Albasini’s rivals for the Yellow Jersey presented by Bikeability is Team Sky’s Greg Henderson, who took fourth in the finishing sprint, the same position he currently lies in overall, 1 minute 33 seconds behind first place.  Henderson currently wears The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey, as the races’ most consitent finisher, but has his eyes on other prizes too.

“The aim’s the overall in London,” said Henderson after the stage, “And I have to try and get on the podium.  It’s a very important race for us, a home race, and at the moment I’m in fourth place so I’m chasing time bonuses along the road and chasing time bonuses at the finish.  But it’s been a long hard week and it’s taken its toll on not only myself but the whole team, who are riding full gas for me.

With several riders closely bunched behind the race leader, The Tour of Britain is boiling down to an exciting two final stages, but Henderson says that the closeness of the General Classification poses problems.

“They’re not going to let me go anywhere, Columbia mark me, we mark certain people.  There’s a core group of people who can’t go anywhere basically and I can’t slip into a move because they’ll chase me instantly.  Everybody’s on their last legs, so we’ve just got to keep fighting until London.”

Also fighting on for another day was Team Raleigh’s lanterne rouge Peter Smith, who came home in 80th position in a group containing Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas.  Smith now sits in 83rd place, 1 hour 6 minutes and 13 seconds behind the Yellow Jersey.

Stage Seven sees The Tour of Britain visit Suffolk and Essex, heading across the two counties from Bury St Edmunds to Colchester, taking in 152.3 kilometres of racing.  Beginning at Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds, riders will race through Haverhill, Long Melford and Sudbury, on their way into Essex where they will face crucial intermediate Sprints at Braintree and Tiptree before the drag up East Hill in Colchester to the finish line.

Current yellow jersey of The Tour of Britain - Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia)

Stage Six Results

1) Andre Greipel                            Team HTC – Columbia               4:09:05

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling             @ same time

3) Lucas Sebastien Haedo             Team Saxo Bank                       @ same time

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Cameron Meyer       Garmin – Transitions

General Classification standings (after six stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               24h 02m 14s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 26s

3) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 27s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  48pts

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    42pts

3) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               39pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    54pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Dan Martin                                Garmin – Transitions                  32pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Michal Golas                             Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    27pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       18pts

3) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    15pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!

By Peter Hodges

Bradley Wiggins second, as Marco Frapporti takes solo victory in Somerset

Marco Frapporti (Colnago – CSF Inox) taking a solo victory in Glastonbury

The Tour of Britain leaves the South West of Britain tonight after two days of tough racing in Devon and Somerset with Michael Albasini still in the lead of the race, having maintained his 1 minute 28 second advantage over Richie Porte during Wednesday’s 178 kilometre stage from Tavistock to Glastonbury.

Winner on the day was Marco Frapporti of the Colnago – CSF Inox team, who broke away from his breakaway companions in the closing kilometres to win by 13 seconds from Bradley Wiggins, with the main field coming in over nine minutes in arrears.

Bradley Wiggins coming in second behind Frapporti

Frapporti was a member of a seven rider breakaway group that spent the majority of the stage out in front, escaping in the closing kilometres to ride alone into the packed Glastonbury town centre, where he crossed the line arms aloft head of Britain’s Wiggins.

“I was here to ride for Manuel Belletti, so I have been riding in support of my team,” said Frapporti.  “But when Manuel got a virus and had to stop, then today I was able to take my own chance, which I did.”

Frapporti, who hails from Gavardo in Lombardy, described his winning move in the post-race press conference.

“I attacked with ten kilometres to go with Dan Martin.  With five kilometres to go there was a false flat and I jumped then and Dan couldn’t go with me, and luckily for me I kept away.

“I didn’t even look back, because the moment you look back then you lose, so I just put my head down and went.”

With the day’s first King of the Mountains climb at Merrivale coming within the first few kilometres of racing, there was action right from the flag drop, particularly as a number of those riders looking for King of the Mountains points like Johnny Hoogerland and Richie Porte were also in overall contention, provoking a fierce chase behind.

Windy conditions on the exposed roads across Dartmoor didn’t help matters, although the dry and bright weather conditions were a marked improvement on previous days.  The wind contributed to a split in the peloton, but with Albasini and the other contenders in the front group there was no fierce drive on to distance any rivals.

After an hour of racing the day’s break formed, containing Frapporti, Lucas Sebastien Haedo, Iker Camano, Michal Golas, Pieter Ghyllebert and Daniel Martin, with Heinrich Haussler and then Wiggins joining them, with the septet quickly building an advantage thanks to the lack of threat they posed the yellow jersey.

After beginning to struggle with the pace, Haussler was first dropped and then abandoned into his Cervelo team car.  At the same time Wiggins rode away from the break crossing the King of the Mountains climb of Rosemary Hill as he was joined first by Golas and Camano before the rest of the escapees also caught up.  The steep Category One Rosemary Hill also saw Porte and Patrick Sinkewitz attack from the peloton, but a fast chase by the HTC – Columbia headed peloton reeled them both back in after the climb.

One rider who did escape the peloton was Skil – Shimano’s Ronald Van Zandbeek, with around 35 kilometres to go, however the Dutch rider spent the rest of the stage dangling between the break and the peloton, eventually crossing the line six and a half minutes in arrears.

With ten kilometres to go, Martin, one of the stars of Stage Four who admitted before the start that his legs were only just beginning to come good attacked, and was swiftly joined by Frapporti.  The duo worked well together until with five kilometres to go the Italian struck off alone, and Martin was unable to match the rise in pace.

With Martin slipping backwards to an eventual seventh, Wiggins leapt forwards and attempted to ride down Frapporti, but instead of victory only had the sight of the Colnago – CSF Inox rider crossing the line, arms aloft, 13 agonising seconds ahead of him.

“At first it was very hard, we had 15 riders with us then a group came together”, said Frapporti.  “Then we went again as four and Haussler arrived, and then Wiggins.  And then Haussler for some reason stopped.  It was hard as it kept splitting over the hills.

“The crowd were very very friendly, and very warm.  During the entire stage there were a lot of people watching and everybody was cheering and shouting so it was a very good atmosphere.

The 25-year-old also admitted to a moment’s inattention in the closing metres that almost cost him dearly, saying, “At the finish I was going too hard and I followed the motorbikes in front and almost went down the deviation, so there was fear, but it was ok.”

Frapporti becomes the eighth Italian rider to win a stage of The Tour of Britain since it’s re-birth in 2004, joining the ranks of Alessandro Petacchi and Filippo Pozzato.  Italy are statistically the most successful nation in Tour history, having now won eleven stages of the race in seven editions.

While Yellow Jersey presented by Bikeability holder Albasini held onto his race lead, his bid for overall honours has been hampered by the loss of a second teammate in consecutive days, after Tony Martin abandoned with illness.

Albasini also kept possession of The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey, although thanks to the Swiss rider’s overall race lead, Sky’s Greg Henderson will once again have the honour of wearing the blue jersey.

Once again the South West proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Vacansoleil team, as Hoogerland kept hold of the King of the Mountains jersey, reinforcing his lead along the way, while Golas took control of the Sprints competition in a battle which looks set to go right down to Stage Eight in London on Saturday.

Away from the racing, Glastonbury also The Tour of Britain remember Battle of Britain Day, with a minutes silence and the release of 70 white balloons, shaped as doves.

Stage Six sees The Tour of Britain visit Norfolk for the first time ever, with the longest stage of the race, 190 kilometres from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth, visiting the likes of Sandringham, Wells-next-the-sea and Norwich on its way across the county.

Stage Five Results

1) Marco Frapporti                                    Colnago – CSF Inox                  4h 16m 10s

2) Bradley Wiggins                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  @ 13s

3) Lucas Sebastien Haedo             Team Saxo Bank                       @ 32s

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Pieter Ghyllebert     AN Post Sean Kelly Cycling Team

General Classification standings (after five stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               19h 53m 09s

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 28s

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 32s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after five stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               39pts

2) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  36pts

3) Koen De Kort                            Skil – Shimano                          30pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after five stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    51pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Dan Martin                                Garmin – Transitions                  32pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after five stages)

1) Michal Golas                             Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    23pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       15pts

3) Matthew Hayman                       Sky Professional Cycling Team  11pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!

By Peter Hodges

Dutch team take one-two in Teignmouth, but Albasini holds onto race lead

Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) takes stage 4 of The Tour of Britain

The South West boasts that is a destination for serious cyclists, and the Vacansoleil Pro Cycling team certainly showed that they are serious about winning the overall Tour of Britain with an aggressive ride across the South West peninsula from Minehead to Teignmouth, which ended in a stage win for Dutchman Wout Poels.

Poels attacked a select group of riders on the road into Teignmouth, soloing to a five second week over a group of seven chasers who came agonisingly close to catching the Vacansoleil rider on the long finishing straight.

Instead though Poels held on to win from his teammate Borut Bozic, who moves into third overall in The Tour of Britain.  Finishing in the same group as Bozic were other General Classification contenders Richie Porte, Johnny Hoogerland and race leader Michael Albasini, but previous yellow jersey Greg Henderson lost a further ten seconds to slip to fourth overall, as well as losing his grip on The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey.

Also starring during Stage Four from Minehead to Teignmouth was Dan Martin, who collected the Honda Combativity Award for his constant attacking, that led to the Irishman spending much of the day out in front, as once again poor weather conditions hit The Tour of Britain.

Once again the day started off with a flurry of attacks as The Tour headed away from the West Somerset Railway in Minehead and up onto Exmoor.  First to escape was a group containing Martin and Kristian House, to which Russell Downing bridged across to.  Despite building a relatively large advantage, the Vacansoleil driven field reeled them back in, as the Dutch squad looked to set up its trio of riders who began the day in fourth, fifth and sixth positions overall.

Garmin’s Martin then went solo on the King of the Mountains climb of Lype Hill, building a half minute advantage.  Behind with Vacansoleil driving the peloton began to split up, with a number of riders beginning to struggle instantly.  For several that would be the last contact they had with the rest of the field for the entire stage.

Dan Martin (Garmin Transitions)

Thanks to the Vacansoleil pressure a chasing group formed, including the Yellow Jersey, plus rivals Porte and eventual stage winner Poels.  This group gradually grew as riders made it across, swelling to become the de facto peloton as the previous ‘main’ field split apart, with some riders heading forwards across the gap and others going backwards to form a gruppetto early on.

At the front Bozic then tried his hand, swiftly building a 30 second lead, which was equally swiftly eroded thanks to his threatening overall status.  Next to escape was Martin again, going clear with Matthew Hayman, Ronan Van Zandbeek, Gianluca Mirenda and Vacansoleil duo Matteo Carrara and Bozic.  Once again a lead was built before HTC – Columbia began to ride down the gap, making the catch just before Albasini punctured, but the Swiss rider was swiftly helped back to the front group by teammates Andre Greipel and Tony Martin, with no damage done to his position in the race.

After dropping down to the north Somerset coast, the road began to climb once more, back onto Exmoor for the Ralegh’s Cross King of the Mountains with Vacansoleil still pilling on the pressure.  At the back the large group of riders in the gruppetto began to sit up, prompting a large time gap come the finish on the south Devon coast.

On the climb Dan Martin attacked once again, taking Bozic with him before the Slovenian relented leaving the Garmin rider alone.  This wasn’t to last for long however, as Hayman and Hoogerland joined him, quickly building a minutes lead as the race crossed into Devon, with grew to almost two minutes after 47 miles of racing.

With the gap going past two minutes making Hoogerland the virtual Yellow Jersey, HTC – Columbia were forced into a chase, with Team Saxo Bank also joining them to protect Porte’s high general classification placing.

By Peak Hill above Sidmouth the gap was back at two minutes, and thanks to the pressure of HTC and Saxo Bank this figured continued to fall, with Albasini thankful to again have Tony Martin at his side as he punctured on the descent to Otterton.

Passing through twenty kilometres to go as the race neared Exeter and crossed the Exe Estuary the three leaders were just 34 seconds in front, prompting an attack from Martin which shedded his two accomplices, most crucially GC threat Hoogerland.

However the chase didn’t abate, with Vacansoleil now driving across to the leader, splitting the leading group on the road still further.  Once caught Martin began to fell back as repeated attacks raining in, with Porte twice trying to ride himself of the other leading riders on the numerous dips and peaks of the coastal roads.

Coming out of Dawlish Poels surged ahead to no avail, but it was his second attack a few kilometres later on the final rise outside of Teignmouth that proved to be more productive, as the Dutchman countered an attack by Domenico Pozzovivo to go over the top of the Colnago rider and onto the fast descent into Teignmouth.

Switching down through the town, Poels turned onto the finishing straight clear of his rivals, holding off the charging group despite a fierce cross-headwind on the seafront finish.

“Today was a super day”, said the 22-year-old.  “In the beginning we did a lot of work on the first climb to drop alot of guys and that was pretty good.  And then Johnny attacked and I thought he had a good chance to win, but HTC – Columbia started riding with Saxo Bank and it came back, so there was the chance for me to win the stage.

“I attacked at eight kilometres before the finish, but they brought me back.  I had a little bit of recuperation but then I attacked again at four kilometres before the finish, and then they didn’t see me anymore!

“I knew it was difficult with a lot of corners, but I took a little bit of a risk and thought when I can win a stage or crash, then I have to make a choice.  I took a little bit of a risk, but everything was going good.

“It was a really hard race, with the three climbs and directly from the start it was hard, but it was a nice day.”

“It’s part of my character, attacking,” said Poel’s Vacansoleil teammate and King of the Mountains jersey wearer Johnny Hoogerland.

“With the team we wanted to make the race hard.  We knew HTC – Columbia have a very strong team, but also (Mark) Renshaw and (Andre) Greipel aren’t the riders who can close the gaps in the hills.  So from the start we decided to make it hard.  Michal Golas did a little sprint and then Wout did nearly the whole climb and then (Patrick) Sinkewitz attacked and we were just ten riders.  Then it came back and then we went again.”

“It was first 30 seconds, then 40 seconds and then four minutes, and I was thinking ‘I am going to get the General’, and I told the other guys I don’t sprint for the victory, I just want to have the general, but then Saxo Bank also started riding, I don’t know why they did.”

“I’m happy for Wout because this year he made a lot of progression, won a stage at the Tour de l’Ain and he’s going to the World Championships.  I think it is significant how he did it, because Greipel and Albasini were riding full gas and still they couldn’t catch him.”

On his chances over overhauling Albasini’s race lead, Hoogerland said, “I think it’s going to be difficult, but we are not sitting in the peloton tomorrow, we still keep fighting.”

Stage Five sees The Tour of Britain remaining in the South West, as Devon and Somerset prove they are top destinations for serious cyclists with another tough stage through world-class scenery.  Beginning in Tavistock, riders will tackle 178.2 kilometres of tough roads, passing across Dartmoor and through Cullumpton and Ilminster on their way to Glastonbury.

Stage Four Results

1) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    4h 30m 35s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 5s

3) Koen De Kort                            Skil – Shimano                          @ same time

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Dan Martin, Garmin – Transitions Pro Cycling Team

General Classification standings (after four stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               15h 27m 41

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 28s

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 32s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               39pts

2) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  36pts

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    28pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    45pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    31pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       15pts

2) Matthew Hayman                       Sky Professional Cycling Team  11pts

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    8pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!