TOUR OF BRITAIN
"THAT WAS VINTAGE STUFF FROM STANNARD, ROLLING BACK THE YEARS FOR AN INCREDIBLE, GRITTY WIN IN THE CLASSICS CONDITIONS HE LOVES."
A sprint finish was expected at the end of today's stage through Nottinghamshire, but thanks to a determined effort by classics specialists, Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), they'll have to wait for tomorrow for their day of glory.
In apocalyptic, driving rain Stannard crossed the line in Mansfield alone for his first victory in more than a year. The Englishman managed to shed Politt in the final 15km, before riding in on his own for what will go down as one of his most memorable and dramatic victories. The German rider was second across, with a charging peloton not far behind.
With the on-the-line time bonuses sucked up by the break, the OVO Energy green jersey standings remain unchanged, with Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) sitting pretty with an advantage of 17 seconds on Stannard's team-mate, Wout Poels. It'll take something Herculean from the Dutchman to shift Alaphilippe now.
In the scrap for minor sprint placings, the leader of the Wahoo Points jersey extended his advantage – Patrick Bevin (BMC) second over the line from those in the peloton. Bevin is now mathematically safe in the jersey.
It was the forcing of Stannard over the first categorised climb that formed the break, with the Englishman eventually joined by Politt, Alex Paton (Canyon Eisberg), Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF) and Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). The miserable conditions played into the break's hands, with the gap maxing out at eight minutes. With 30km remaining and the gap at 4'30" it became clear there was no bringing them back.
With no threats to his lead in the escape, Skoda King of the Mountains, Nic Dlamini, got another easy day in the peloton. There are no climbs tomorrow, so barring any disasters, the South African should finish the race as winner of that classification.
Paton scooped enough points to tip Matthew Holmes (Madison Genesis) out of the lead in the Eisberg Sprints jersey. He'll wear red tomorrow but will face stern competition from the likes of Holmes, Matt Bostock (Team GB) and Tom Moses (JLT) who are all within striking distance.
The race hits central London tomorrow for the traditional final showpiece stage.