André Greipel of HTC-Columbia is the leader of the Tour of Britain this evening after clinching Stage 1 in Blackpool, 12 months after one of the American ProTour team’s former rider, Edvald Boasson Hagen, clinched the overall win in the 2009 edition of the race.
The latter, winner of four stages 12 months ago, isn’t defending his title this year – he’s racing in Canada this weekend, where yesterday he finished second to Thomas Voeckler in the Grand Prix Cycliste De Québec – but the six Team Sky riders who are here, led by Bradley Wiggins worked hard all day to keep a three man breakaway in check to try and set up Greg Henderson for the sprint.
As it turned out, the New Zealander finished third behind Greipel and Manuel Belletti of Colnago-CSF Inox, with the Italian getting the chance to wear the blue points jersey tomorrow – Greipel, who tops the classification, will be in the overall leader’s yellow and white jersey, of course – while two of today’s breakaway riders, Richie Porte of Team Saxo Bank and Vacansoleil’s Wout Poels – will respectively don the sprints and mountains jerseys.
Today’s 133km stage began with a downpour in Rochdale – most of the riders donning rain jackets after the obligatory pre-race photo opp (below), the weather clearing on the way into Blackpool, with Porte and Poels, together with Endura’s Jack Bauer, getting away on the first categorised climb.
Greipel, who punctured 7km out and needed to be paced back quickly by his team mates to enable him to contest the sprint, said afterwards: “It’s always something special to win the first stage because you get the leader’s jersey as well. This was our main goal to win the stage and we achieved it.
The 28-year-old, who leaves HTC-Columbia at the end of the season to join Omega Pharma-Lotto, continued: “Of course the weather was not the best today, one time it was warm and another time it was cold, then raining, but I’m happy the sun came out for the finish, so a good day for us.”
The German remained non-committal on his chances of retaining the yellow jersey over the coming days, saying: “I think there are a couple of good teams here, so for sure they will want to drop me on the climbs, so maybe they do, or maybe they don’t!”
Porte, who won the best young rider’s jersey in May’s Giro d’Italia and also wore the race leader’s maglia rosa for three stages was happy with his day’s work. “I enjoyed it,” the Australian reflected. “If I want to ride classification it’s the only way I can do it, to go up the road and take some time. We had a nice group off the front and worked well together. To wear the jersey tomorrow is an honour.”
One of those contesting the sprint was another Australian, Rapha-Condro-Sharp’s Zak Depmpster, who came home in 11th place. “I’m feeling pretty good, I think today was a fairly easy stage because Sky controlled it well, I was in about tenth from 30km to go and that’s where you stay in that type of lead out,” he said afterwards. “I think positioning is key and if I can put myself in a better position then I’m going well enough to achieve a much better result than that.”
With bumpier terrain in prospect for the next three stages, Dempster acknowledges that it is some of his team mates that will play a more prominent role in the days ahead.“
Tomorrow’s going to be a completely different ‘bag of chips’ if you like, and I think it’s Darren [Lapthorne], Kristian [House] and Dan [Craven] who will come to the forefront depending on how it’s raced. If it’s raced hard then those guys will be right up there.”
Tomorrow’s Stage 2 starts and finishes in Stoke-on-Trent with some testing climbs in the Staffordshire countryside, including Ramshorn, Hollinsclough Moor and Gun Hill. The route is 160.8km, which in old money equates to 100 miles – one for each year since the city of Stoke-on-Trent was incorporated in 1910.
Full details of that and other stages can be found on the Tour of Britain’s website, and there will be a highlights programme on ITV4 at 7pm.
Tour of Britain Stage One Results 1) André Greipel HTC-Columbia 3:16:48 2) Manuel Belletti Colnago-CSF Inox same time 3) Greg Henderson Team Sky " Honda Combativity Award Winner Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank General Classification standings 1) André Greipel HTC-Columbia 3:16:36 2) Manuel Belletti Colnago-CSF Inox @0:06 3) Greg Henderson Team Sky @0:08 The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings 1) André Greipel HTC-Columbia 15 points 2) Manuel Belletti Colnago-CSF Inox 14 points 3) Greg Henderson Team Sky 13 points The King of the Mountains Jersey standings 1) Wout Poels Vacansoleil 16 points 2) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 13 points 3) Jack Bauer Endura Racing 10 points The Sprints Jersey standings 1) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 10 points 2) Russ Downing Team Sky 7 points 3) Wout Poels Vacansoleil 6 points
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.