The queen stage may be done and dusted with but with only a single second separating Wout Poels (SKY) from the current leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN) the Tour of Britain still has plenty of life left in it.
With the telecoms company MTN stepping down as title sponsor at the end of the year this must’ve been music to the ears of team principle Doug Ryder who is currently stateside trying to drum up interest from viable sponsors. However, with such a strong showing in the Tour De France, notably from Daniel Teklehaimanot and Stephen Cummings, and (if rumours are to be believed) a potential signing of Mark Cavendish, there shouldn’t be any real trouble securing the team’s future for the coming seasons.
Unfortunately, Cavendish didn’t get a chance to show his form to his potential suitors as he was forced to abandon following a crash early on in the stage. Whether this was a calculated measure to save himself for the World Championships remains to be seen, but it’s a shame to see him go.
The stage started quickly and remained fast thoughout the day. A breakaway formed and stuck and before long there was a major split in the riders – those who were challenging for G.C. formed a chasing group, and the rest of the peloton, who sat up and would later finish the stage some 30 minutes behind the winner.
With 60km to go the breakaway had a small margin of 24 seconds and Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and the lone figure of Boasson Hagen were driving the pace of the yellow jersey group. Hagen was bereft of teammates at this point and was going to have to be particularly vigilant to make sure he remained in yellow at the end of the day.
And vigilant he was! With 3.5 kilometres to go a plucky Matteo Trentin (EQS), the only surviving member of the break, still had 10 seconds on the chasing group before Boasson Hagen jumped off the front and charged toward, and past, the Etixx rider – closing the gap in just over a kilometre. Sky, who had been riding hard for Poels, were caught off guard and couldn’t match the sudden and determined move by the Norwegian champion.
Knowing it would be best to work together, Boasson Hagen let Trentin onto his wheel and they surged toward the finish line – the chase group scrambling behind in an attempt to bridge the gap. Into the final kilometre Boasson Hagen was leading Trentin toward the line. With bonus seconds awaiting at the finish, both riders put up a good fight for the stage win – finally taken by an elated Trentin who sprinted from behind.
The chase group finished about 7 seconds behind, but with the bonus seconds awarded Edvald now finds himself 13 seconds in the overall lead. He arguably could’ve done more work on the front of the chase group but given his lack of teammates for most of the day he delivered an astonishingly powerful performance, honouring well the leaders jersey that he retains. As a previous Team Sky stalwart who left the team for more stage and G.C. opportunities, he could be feeling (if his mild-mannered demeanour were to allow it) especially smug that he was able to get the better of Dave Brailsford’s men. Hat’s off.