Borut Bozic this afternoon went one better than his second place to André Greipel in Great Yarmouth yesterday to outsprint Team Sky's Greg Henderson to clinch Stage 7 of the Tour of Britain in Colchester, giving Vacansoleil a second stage win in the race following Wout Poels victory in Teignmouth on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old’s win in the 152-kilometre stage that began this morning in Bury St Edmunds is further reward for the hard work the team has put in since the race started last Saturday, their performance putting them at the top of the team standings overnight, with the Dutch outfit’s Johnny Hoogerland also doing enough today to ensure the King of the Mountains jersey assuming he completes the race in tomorrow.
The victory consolidates the Slovenian sprinter’s second place in the overall standings, but with tomorrow’s final stage in London’s Docklands almost certain to end in a bunch sprint, it’s unlikely that Bozic, winner of a stage in last year’s Vuelta, will be able to overhaul HTC-Columbia’s Michael Albasini who retains the yellow jersey.
He may, however, be able to beat Greg Henderson (pictured below, on the right in the white and blue points jersey) to the points competiton - the New Zealander limited his losses by finishing second to Bozic today, but now has just a five point cushion over the Vacansoleil rider.
The race leader’s depleted team – Tony Martin and Marco Pinotti were both forced to withdraw from the race through illness earlier this week – together with Team Sky, worked hard at the front of the peloton to bring back a breakaway comprising Tom Murray of Sigma Sport-Specialized and Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator’s Pieter Jacobs, although the pair were never allowed to establish too much of an advantage and the catch was made as the race headed into Colchester.
London-based Rapha-Condor-Sharp will be hoping for better luck when the race hits the capital tomorrow, with Dan Craven abandoning after crashing and taken to hospital with a suspected broken wrist. On Monday, Craven’s team mate and fellow Australian Darren Lapthorne broke his collarbone after crashing in the mist and rain on the descent of the Black Mountain as the race headed into Swansea for the finish of Stage 3.
After his victory today, Bozic said, “For me this is a big victory because there are a lot of good riders here. It doesn’t matter where it is; every race is hard to win. We are a good team and we help each other a lot," he continued. "There is also, as you can see, a good team spirit.”
Hoogerland meanwhile reflected on his sealing the mountains competition, saying:
“Yesterday I was pretty sure of the jersey, but with today it could have happened that 15 riders had gone with Richie (Porte) and stolen the points, so you never know.
“During the last few stages I have been taking the most points, but it was on the fourth stage when I took the jersey that it was good for me. I’m very happy to bring it home.
The Dutchman also reflected on the Tour of Britain’s route, saying, “You always have hilly and flat stages so I think it’s normal. They could have stayed in the South West the whole week, but I think that’s not fair for the sprinters! For me, two extra stages in the South West would probably have been better, and then maybe Albasini wouldn’t have got his jersey still."
He continued: “Some teams are probably less motivated because it is only a 2.1 category race, but for us they are all big races. I looked at the programme for September and I said ‘I want to do The Tour of Britain’, because I think it’s a beautiful race.”
On teh crowds that greeted the race today in Suffolk and Essex, Hoogerland said: “There are a lot of people! It was actually more beautiful than I expected, because in every village there are fans, I think all the schools are empty for the race, and it’s lovely to be here.”
Tomorrow’s 100-kilometre final stage takes place on a circuit in London’s Docklands, uncharted territory for the race which has regularly taken in a circuit from Westminster to the Tower of London since it was revived in 2004, the change necessitated by the papal visit. The stage starts at 2pm.
Picture credits: The Tour of Britain
Stage Seven Result
1) Borut Bozic Vacansoleil 3h 24m 15s 2) Greg Henderson Team Sky same time 3) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank @ 3s Honda Combativity Award Winner Pieter Jacobs Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator General Classification standings (after seven stages) 1) Michael Albasini Team HTC-Columbia 27h 26m 40s 2) Borut Bozic Vacansoleil @ 1m 05s 3) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank @ 1m 14s The Prostate Cancer Charity Points (after seven stages) 1) Greg Henderson Team Sky 62pts 2) Borut Bozic Vacansoleil 57pts 3) Koen de Kort Skil-Shimano 50pts The King of the Mountains (after seven stages) 1) Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil 56pts 2) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 45pts 3) Wout Poels Vacansoleil 31pts The Sprints Jersey standings (after seven stages) 1) Michal Golas Vacansoleil 31pts 2) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 20pts 3) Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil 16pts
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.