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For the second day in a row, a breakaway turned the Tour of Britain on its heads when Vermote took a beautiful solo win and van Baarle finished third and took the leader’s jersey

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

DYLAN VAN BAARLE

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EF EDUCATION - EASYPOST

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IGNATAS KONOVALOVAS

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JULIEN VERMOTE

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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13.09.2014 @ 18:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second day in a row, the favourites in the Tour of Britain miscalculated their chase and allowed a strong breakaway to turn the race on its heads. While Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a beautiful solo win, Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) finished third and took the leader’s jersey off Alex Dowsett’s shoulders, with the Brit dropping to 10th after he had suffered on the final two climbs.

 

Yesterday Matthias Brändle (IAM) and Alex Dowsett (Movistar) completely changed the expected script in the Tour of Britain when the pair time trialed their way to the finish in stage 6. Today the scenario repeated itself in the hilly penultimate road stage when a strong 5-rider breakaway achieved a similar feat.

 

Julien Vermote rode away from his companions on the penultimate climb and then went into time trial mode to hold off his chasers and take his first professional victory. However, the biggest winner was probably Dylan van Baarle who combined forces with Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN-Qhubeka), crossed the line in third and took the leader’s jersey.

 

Behind, the favourites battled against Dowsett who they desperately tried to distance and they accomplished their mission on the penultimate climb. Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky worked hard to maximize their gains over the Brit on the downhill run to the line and managed to ride him out of winning contention. However, they had started their chase too late and with his third place, van Baarle became the new leader of the race.

 

After yesterday’s dramtic stage that turned the GC on its head, the Tour of Britain continued with the longest stage in its history. It brought the riders over 226 from Camberley to Brighton. The first two thirds were made up of rolling terrain but the finale was a real leg breaker. A category 2 climb preceded two tough category 1 ascents inside the final 20km and then it was a fast descent to the finish.

 

The riders took the start under sunny condition. There were two non-starters as Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) and Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) decided to leave the race.

 

Like in the past stages, the race was off to a very fast start but today the break was established a bit earlier than usual. Kevin Ista (IAM), Dylan van Baarle (Garmin), Julien Vermote (OPQS), Marcin Bialobloski (Giordana) and Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN) managed to get a gap and as the peloton slowed down, the advantage started to grow.

 

At first, the peloton seemed to be keen to keep them on a short leash and after 50km of racing, they were just 3.56 ahead. For some reason, however, the peloton suddenly slowed down and when van Baarle beat Vermote and Bialobloski in the first intermediate sprint, the escapees were 6 minutes ahead.

 

At the 100km mark, the gap had ballooned to 9 minutes and now Movistar and Bardiani had started to roll at the head of the peloton. In the second intermediate sprint, the order was the same as in the first one, with van Baarle picking up another three bonus seconds.

 

With 95km to go, the gap was a massive 9.45 and Bardiani had again left all the work to Movistar. Pablo Lastras and Sylwester Szmyd were rolling along on the front but not gaining any ground.

 

With 90km to go, BMC decided that it was time to react. Stephen Cummings (BMC) joined the Movistar riders on the front and it was the signal for the chase to get more serious. Bardiani and Tinkoff-Saxo also committed riders to the chase and now the peloton was riding a lot faster.

 

With Cummings, Martin Kohler (BMC), Sebastian Lander (BMC), Lastras, Szmyd, Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) and Nikolay Trusov (BMC) being among the workers, they started to bring the gap down. With 73km to go, it was down to 8 minutes while van Baarle beat Ista and Konovalovas in the final intermediate sprint.

 

The break briefly split up when van Baarle and Konovalovas got a gap but Vermote and Bialoboski and later Ista made it back. The group worked well together on the first climb where Ista was clearly suffering.

 

Sky was now also contributing to the chase with Bernhard Eisel but like most of the other chasers, he blew up on the climb. Instead, it was Cummings, Lastras and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) who did the majority of the work and neutralized an attack from a rider from the national team.

 

Konovalovas led van Baarle, Bialoblocki, Vermote and Ista over the top while KOM leader Mark McNally (An Post) moved ahead to pick up the final point. The fast pace had made the peloton explode and several groups were spread across the road when they hit a windy section after the top.

 

Cummings, Lastras, Visconti and Rick Zabel (BMC) were now doing all the work. With 50km to go, the gap was 6 minutes and the escapees were losing ground quickly.

 

With 35km to go, it was only 4.45 and now NetApp also started to contribute. As they approached the second climb inside the final 20km, the fight for position started and the gap was now only 2.30 when Giant and Tinkoff led the peloton onto the climb.

 

As soon as they hit the lower slopes, Vermote attacked and he quickly got an advantage. Meanwhile, Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS) was making the race explode and Dowsett was one of the riders losing ground. The Brit was being paced by his teammate Visconti but while Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo rode hard in the main group, he lost ground and at the top he was 45 seconds behind.

 

Ben Swift did a lot of work to distance the race leader and led the group onto the final climb. Here Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) launched a futile attack but it was the subsequent attack by Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff) that drew a small group clear.

 

Roche was joined by Kwiatkowski, Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani), Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM) and Dylan Teuns (BMC) while Wiggins was suffering a lot further down the climb. However, the Brit managed to rejoin the first big chase group and they caught the Kwiatkowski group on the descent.

 

IAM rode hard on the front in the final kilometres but there was no way they were going to catch Vermote. The Belgian took the stage win while Konovalovas beat van Baarle in a two-rider sprint 20 seconds later.

 

Kwiatkowski won the sprint for fourth 1.20 after Vermote had crossed the line but it was too late for him to take the leader’s jersey. Van Baarle goes into the final day with a 19-second advantage over the Pole.

 

However, all is still to play for as the final day starts with a flat 8.8km time trial in London before the race ends late in the afternoon with a flat circuit race that is expected to suit the sprinters.

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