HTC-Columbia enjoyed a successful day in the East London sunshine yesterday, and while the Royal Docks may not quite be the seaside, Andre Greipel clinched his third waterside victory of this year's Tour of Britain, to follow his wins in Blackpool and Great Yarmouth. With Michael Albasini also winning the overall title - following in the tracks of then Columbia HTC rider Edvald Boasson Hagen, last year's champion - it was a very successful day for the US outfit.
The changes wrought by decades of urban renewal, with landmarks inclding the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf, the ExCel exhibition halls, the Docklands Light Railway, London City Airport and Newham's striking civic centre - plus the docks themselves - provided a dramatic backdrop to the stage, moved here from the usual route the Tour of Britain follows when it visits London from Westminster to Tower Hill.
That didn't deter big crowds from turning out, however, nor the riders from putting on a spectacular finale to the eight day-race, with attacks from the flag dropping to signal the start of the race until Team Sky and HTC-Columbia moved to the front on the final lap to set up the sprint finish.
Picture credit: The Tour of Britain
The first of those attacks came from Matt Brammeier of An Post Sean Kelly, Liverpool-born but now racing under the Irish flag, and winner of the Irish national road race championships this year, who went solo on the first lap (below).
Brammeier was also involved in the day's final attack, which was instigated by Jeremy Hunt of Cervelo TestTeam, heading off now to Australia to support Mark Cavendish's World Championship bid in a fortnight's time.
The other members of that escape, pictured below, were Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta's Peter Williams, the Raleigh rider Tom Barras and Wouter Sybrandy of Sigma Sport-Specialized, giving some of the leading domestic team sponsors some decent TV time before the big names reeled them in.
Griepel held off Lucas Sebastien Haedo of Team Saxo Bank and Britain’s Roger Hammond to take the sprint, rouding off a successful week for HTC-Columbia, which lost two of their six riders after Marco Pinotti and Tony Martin, who both fell ill during the race.
Picture credit: The Tour of Britain
Greg Henderson of Team Sky meanwhile confirmed his win in the in The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey General Classification by finishing fourth in the bunch sprint, and time bonuses meant he moved up to third overall, with Team Sky putting in some hard work on behalf of the New Zealander.
Vacansoleil concluded a successful Tour in which they won two stages by seeing Johnny Hoogerland (below) take the mountains competition, donating the jersey and his race numbers afterwards to The Prostate Cancer Charity, and Michael Golas the won sprints jersey.
The main event was preceded by the Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride, and afterwards the charity’s chief executive, John Neate, said: Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, explains: “It was fantastic to see almost 1,000 amateur cyclists warming up the tarmac for the pros in the final stage of The Tour of Britain.”
He continued: “Almost 4,000 people across the UK have united behind the cause on two wheels to measure themselves against the cycling elite. We are incredibly pleased to be partnered with The Tour of Britain and we hope to build the success of these unique sportive events further next year.”
Stars were out too, including Tommy Walsh of Ground Force fame and comedian David Schneider, both pictured below.
The last Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride takes place next Sunday Stoke-on-Trent, following the taxing route of Stage Two of The Tour, and details can be found here.
All pictures © Simon MacMichael except where otherwise shown, and there are more below the results and in our dedicated gallery.
Tour of Britain Stage Eight Results 1) Andre Greipel HTC-Columbia 1h 57m 07s 2) Lucas Sebastien Haedo Team Saxo Bank @ same time 3) Roger Hammond Cervelo TestTeam @ same time Honda Combativity Award Winner Matt Brammeier An Post Sean Kelly Final General Classification standings 1) Michael Albasini HTC-Columbia 29h 23m 47s 2) Borut Bozic Vacansoleil @ 1m 05s 3) Greg Henderson Team Sky @ 1m 10s Final Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey 1) Greg Henderson Team Sky 74pts 2) Borut Bozic Vacansoleil 68pts 3) Koen de Kort Skil-Shimano 50pts Final King of the Mountains Jersey standings 1) Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil 56pts 2) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 45pts 3) Wout Poels Vacansoleil 31pts Final Sprints Jersey standings 1) Michal Golas Vacansoleil 34pts 2) Richie Porte Team Saxo Bank 22pts 3) Greg Henderson Team Sky 21pts Final Team General Classification 1) Vacansoleil 88h 08m 02s 2) Team Sky @ 6m 15s 3) Team Saxo Bank @ 24m 42s
British champion Geraint Thomas flies the flag in the capital
Skil-Shimano, Team Sky and HTC-Columbia lead the chase
A fan gets a picture on his phone as the riders race along the dockside
Rapha-Condor-Sharp and ISD Neri in the peloton
Melbourne-bound Jeremy Hunt launches an attack
The peloton races over the Connaught Bridge
The riders race along the dockside
Team cars held up while a rider gets a mechanical sorted out
Cameron Meyer of Garmin-Transitions 'slipstreams' HTC-Columbia team car
Matt Hayman rode strongly for Team Sky
Mark Renshaw on guard duty for race leader Michael Albasini
London's Docklands provided a spectacular backdrop
HTC-Columbia's Bert Grabsch infiltrates Team Sky ahead of the run-in to the line
Michael Albasini and Andre Greipel on their way to the individual and stage wins
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.