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Italian positions himself perfectly in tough uphill sprint and comes around Ciolek just before the line while Cavendish's lead-out man Petacchi shows impressive strength by finishing 2nd

Photo: Sirotti

ALESSANDRO PETACCHI

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ELIA VIVIANI

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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15.09.2013 @ 17:59 Posted by Adam Aisen

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) got his Tour of Britain off to a perfect start by winning the tough uphill sprint in Scotland on stage 1 ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka). With the win, Viviani takes the first leader's jersey while big favourite Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) never played any role in the finale.

 

Elia Viviani once again showed that he is big sprinter in the making when the Italian won the first stage of the Tour of Britain. He did not only show his fast finish, the tough uphill finish made him put his versatile talents on show.

 

In a hectic finish the lead-out trains struggled due to the ascending sprint, Viviani was always well-placed near the front. When Gerald Ciolek opened a long sprint, he was quick to get onto his wheel where he stayed until launching a perfectly timed sprint. Viviani had no difficulty coming around his German rival and took a hugely convincing win.

 

Alessandro Petacchi had tried to lead big favourite Mark Cavendish out and had opened a long sprint. When he was overtaken by Ciolek and Viviani, he realized that he had long lost his sprinter who was far back and so kept going all the way to the line, showing impressive strength by passing Ciolek to take 2nd on the stage.

 

With the win, Viviani took the first leader's jersey and takes a narrow 4-second lead into tomorrow's 2nd stage. The 186,6km is slightly hilly but another sprint finish on an uphill finishing straight is expected.

 

A rainy day

The biggest British race kicked off with a 209,9km stage in Scotland. A rolling course was ended by an uphill finish and a sprint finish was expected.

 

The riders took off in rainy and windy conditions and faced a strong headwind throughout the entire stage. Early in the stage, Ben Greenwood (IG Sigma Sport), Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport), Christophe Laborie (Sojasun), Kristian House (Rapha Condor) and Aaron Gate (An Post) escaped and they were allowed to build up a gap of more than 5 minutes.

 

Sky and Omega Pharma-Quick Step lead the chase

Unsurprisingly, it was home team Sky who took control of the chase by putting Bernhard Eisel on the front and the Austrian started to gradually reel in the escapees. He got assistance from Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who was trying to set up a sprint win for Cavendish on home soil.

 

Up ahead, Hawkins took maximum points on the first climb while Gate and Laborie each won an intermediate sprint. Due to the fierce headwind, it was an extremely slow stage where neither the escapees nor the peloton were in any hurry as they tried to keep something in reserve for the finale.

 

Delaplace launches an attack

With 90km to go, the gap was already down to less than two minutes and it stayed there for a long time while Eisel and Keisse kept a steady pace in the peloton. Eisel was briefly replaced by teammate Mathew Hayman but for most of the day, the pace was set by the Austrian-Belgian duo.

 

When the riders hit the final climb 45km from the finish, Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) launched a fierce attack and quickly bridged across to the early break. He launched an immediate acceleration and left the tired escapees behind to continue on his own.

 

The chasers are caught

The 5 chasers were caught but House dug deep to make another attack just before the top of the climb to take 2nd ahead of Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Martin Elmiger (IAM). The trio fell back to the peloton and Eisel and Keisse assumed their positions on the front.

 

Delaplace built up a 1.30 gap but had a difficult task in the fierce headwind. Inside, the final 20km Sky took complete control in the peloton with Eisel, Hayman and Ian Stannard all taking huge turns on the front.

 

Wiggins shows his intentions

Delaplace managed to stay clear until the first passage of the finish line with 15,7km to go and he took the maximum 3 bonus seconds in the sprint. Nathan Haas (Garmin) beat Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the sprint for 2nd and those two riders picked up 2 and 1 seconds respectively for the GC campaign.

 

With 14,2km to go, Delaplace was caught. Moments later Alex Dowsett (Movistar) attacked. He stayed ahead for a little while but Sky managed to bring things back together inside the final 10km.

 

Garmin take control

Garmin-Sharp now took control as they tried to set up Steele Von Hoff for a sprint win and the American led the chase for most of the final 10km. Inside the final 2km, they were assisted by Omega Pharma-Quick Step but the Belgian team hadn't brought Cavendish into a good position.

 

Inside the final kilometre, MTN Qhubeka launched a lead-out for Ciolek and Petacchi hit the front moments later. Ciolek was the first to open his sprint but Viviani was quick to get onto his wheel. The duo were far ahead of their rivals and Viviani had no difficulty taking the win while Petacchi finished strongly to take 2nd.

 

Result:

1. Elia Viviani

2. Alessandro Petacchi

3. Gerald Ciolek

4. Marco Coledan

5. Matteo Pelucchi

6. Evaldas Siskevicius

7. Shane Archbold

8. Jonathan Dibben

9. Steele Von Hoff

 

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