TOUR OF BRITAIN
"GREAT FIREWORKS AT THE END OF A STAGE WHERE IT LOOKED LIKE THE BREAK MIGHT HOLD OUT. SEEING THE CONTINENTAL GUYS MIX IT UP AT THE FRONT IS WHAT THE TOUR OF BRITAIN IS ALL ABOUT"
A grippy route took the first stage of the 2018 Tour of Britain from Pembrey County Park, Camarthenshire, to Newport, lead by a motivated six-man breakaway that was dominated by domestic riders. They were never given much room, however, and the sprint team-led peloton brought it all back together with 15km to go.
A late attack added some spice to the final 10km, but the sprint teams seized control, and it was André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) who fought his way over the finish line to take the first stage in front of Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors).
The first OVO Energy green jersey will be worn by stage winner, André Greipel. He also leads the Wahoo points classification, and that jersey will be worn tomorrow by second place finisher, Caleb Ewan.
The breakaway of the day was established pretty early after a flurry of attacks from domestic riders. The six-man group were never allowed much room - the gap maxing out at 2'45" - with the peloton sensing the sky-high motivation of the home teams.
Last man standing, Canyon-Eisberg's Rory Townsend, was absorbed by a strong peloton as they approached the final climb - a 9% sting in the tail at 8km to go. Welsh hero, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), was the first to attack, but he was quickly overtaken by a strong quartet including Quick-Step Floors duo, Julian Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels. The last 5km of open roads worked in the peloton's favour, however, and Bob Jungels was caught at the flamme rouge.
Fernando Gaviria opened up his sprint first, but André Greipel showed strength and experience to muscle his way over the line in first place. Team WIGGINS rider Gabz Cullaigh finished fourth, showing he's more than up to the task of challenging the world's best sprinters for the win.
The first Skoda King of the Mountains jersey was pretty convincingly wrapped up by Nic Dlamini on the punchy Welsh hills. On the first climb up Bethlehem Hill, Tom Moses (JLT-Condor) flew off very early in a gutsy attack but was carefully marked by Dlamini who took maximum points over the summit. The South African also crested the second climb of the day in first place, guaranteeing a visit to the podium this evening.
Everyone in the breakaway was highly motivated to win themselves a leader's jersey at this early stage, so the intermediate sprints were particularly heavily contested. Track rider, Matt Bostock, racing for the National GB team, clinched the first sprint and finished just behind Rory Townsend (Canyon-Esiberg) in the second to put himself in front in the Eisberg sprints classification. Second place in the final sprint behind Moses (JLT) kept him there.