Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Dutch rider Poels takes the victory on Stage 4 of Tour of Britain following announcement of inclusion in national team at Melborne

After a shaky start to the day that saw the peloton struggle to maintain a momentum that would not descend into chaos and anarchy as they headed over Exmoor in their fractured state, the Dutch rider Wout Poels took the stage victory in a calculated move against the disadvantaged HTC-Columbia team.

Knowing the terrain was not suited to the likes of Renshaw and Greipel whose sprint capabilities make them more suited to a less undulated route, the Dutchman worked hard with Dan Martin as part of a six man breakaway who stole away early on.

However the Dutchman and his team mates forgot to factor in German rider Tony Martin who lead his man Albasini up and over the climbs to hang on to the overall lead for another 24 hours.

With the main group of 70 riders facing an arduous chase-down and organisation failing to emerge, frantic calls from race organisers threatened to cause chaos and controversy in equal measure.  With the Brits being out-shone and out-riden in this years race, panic in the British organisers' camp who were unsure of how long they could keep the roads closed for the race.  But knowing two-thirds of the riders could not be disqualified under the time limit rules, the peoloton held firm in their control of the race.

With Dan Martin attacking at every possible opportunity he paid the price in the last 10km when he was out witted by Poels on the final climb.  Putting to the back of his mind news from the day before of his inclusion in the Dutch team for the World Championships in Melborne on October 3rd, he made his calculated move and was rewarded with the stage victory.

Stage 5 sees the race travel from Tavistock to Glastonbury.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Albasini solos away on cobbles to secure victory for HTC-Columbia

For the first time in six years the Tour of Britain headed into Wales, the home  of Olympic champion Geraint Thomas.

The remaining riders bravely battled the cobbles and rain for stage three: an epic 93 mile journey from Newtown in Powys to Swansea.

Braving their own colossal cobbled climb that has been a recurring feature of this seasons races, the rides ascended the well known Constitution Hill before a sprint finish in Kingsway saw HTC-Columbia lead by the German rider Tony Martin, who worked hard in the earlier breakaway, set up a fantastic win for their team mate Albasini.

The 29 year old Swiss rider soloed away up the 25% climb of cobbles, wet from the earlier heavy downpour, to take the stage and snatch the overal lead from Sky rider Greg Henderson having finished behind him on stage two.

Having earlier bridged the gap to a nine man breakaway thanks to the efforts of team mate Martin, Albasini looked fearless as he charged away leaving the breakaway for dust, and Garmin-Transitions rider Cameron Meyer, who had earlier failed in his attempts to steal away, unable to follow in pursuit of glory.

Today the race heads to the West Country as they make their way from Minehead in Somerset to Teignmouth in Devon where the victor may forgo the traditional champagne for a glass of the local cider. 


Monday, 13 September 2010

Henderson triumphs to secure Sky sucess

Another overcast day with buffeting winds lay in store for the riders as they began stage two.  

Disapointed and left wanting in the sprint finish of stage one, Sky were ever-eager to put to rest concerns about their performance to date.

Sucessful in the breakaway ahead of stage one victor Greipel (THR), Henderson (SKY) made his intentions for the stage clear early on.

The 100 mile loop of Stoke on Trent saw 18 men gain a four minute advantage over the peloton as they stormed the course to cover 47 miles in the first hour. With three riders in the breakaway Sky had the strongest placing, but with Hausler freshly recovered from an earlier injury and Richie Porte both in the mix, it left the peloton short of strong men to organise the chase-down while opening up possibilities for the stage victory from within the breakaway ranks. 

Geraint Thomas rode a strong ride in the breakaway but it was his team leaders unmistakable calmness that controlled the Sky-dominated tempo. Riding with his familiar expression of surrenity he looked as comfortable as ever; a far cry from the pained expression of agonising torture he wore for much of the TDF earlier in the year.

The days ultimate climb, Gun Hill, with it's tricky descent is famed in British Cycling lore. Not for the faint hearted, the climb is difficult with a fast descent that attracts large crowds of fans who come from far and wide to witness the pain that the climb inflicts on those who dare to tackle it.  

Richie Porte was the brave lone rider who threw the gauntlet down on the ascent. With the others struggling to bridge the gap, the demanding pace was too much for the weakest who began to trickle off the back of the leading group.

By the final sprint, three riders had sucumed to the pace as 15 riders remained ahead of the peoloton 5km behind.  With Sky the best placed with their three riders still in the breakaway group, all eyes were on them to suceed in the tough finish ahead.  

Wiggins worked hard to controll a high pace as his team mates fell in line in the final km as the breakaway group strung out in their textbook train. 

A tight and tough finish, Sky's efforts paid off as Henderson stormed to a well deserved victory that gave Sky some much longed for glory.

His sixth stage win this year, the victory put him in the leaders jersey as Greipel moved out of the top ten.

Stage three sees the race head into Wales and a brutal finish in Swansea.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sky boys aim to prove a point in Stage 1 of the Tour of Britain

Under an ominous  cloud of rain that hung over Rochdale 166 riders gathered at the start of this years TOB.

Smarting from a lack of sucess at this years TDF, team sky were under a lot of pressure to start delivering. Their fresh kit now showing off their sponsors commitment to protecting the global treasure that is the rainforests, it must have felt like a fresh start for a home tour. 

While Bradley Wiggins is sure to want to prove his worth on his home soil, team mate Russ Downing is a favourite for a Tour win. However with current British champion Geraint Thomas having a fantastic season so far, sky are keeping quiet about who they intend to back as their man to bring home the glory.

Earlier in the year Richie Porte became a household name with three days in the Maglia Rosa of the Giro d'Italia. The young Saxo bank rider is a quite possibility to throw a spanner in the Sky teams glory-hunt. Grabbing points in the King of the Mountains competition Porte cemented his place as a rider to watch at this years tour.

Working hard at the front of the peloton the Sky team controlled the pace as Porte and his companions in the breakaway made their presence known.  Turning the screw at the head of the group the sky team controlled the tempo, trimming the advantage back with every measured turn if the peddle as they headed towards the third and final climb on the route into Blackpool. 

With HTC Columbia doing what they do best dominating the roll into the last km, it was sure to be a tense finish as Greiple strove to bring yet more glory for the well known sprint team. But with sky mixing up the action with Henderson and Thomas it seemed to be a free for all grab for sprint glory. 

Greiple lived up to his world class sprinting calebre taking the win as the sprinters hustled for the line.

Today the race heads into Stoke on Trent as the race picks up the pace for stage two.