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Tour of Britain 2015 Stage 1

photo credit @ Team Sky 

Team Sky got their 2015 Tour of Britain campaign off to a dream start with Elia Viviani sprinting to a sensational victory in Wrexham.

Viviani benefitted from some excellent team-work on the 177.7km run from Beaumaris, and latched on to Andre Greipel’s wheel on a twisting run to the finish.

The Italian bided his time brilliantly on the gradual uphill drag, and then surged up the inside on the sweeping final corner to edge out Mark Cavendish by the tightest of margins.

The victory also saw Viviani take control of the points and gold leader’s jersey, and open up a 10-second at the top of the general classification.

Immediately after the stage, he told reporters: “It was a technical finish and really close at the line. We worked hard all day, and Andy Fenn was fantastic taking such a huge turn on the front. Etixx – Quick-Step gave us a little bit of help, but Andy was unbelievable.

“With only six riders per team, it’s difficult to control the race , and we only caught the breakaway in the last 2km. Ben [Swift], Pete [Kennaugh] and Ian [Stannard] then did more fantastic work in the final to put me in the perfect position.

“When I saw Greipel coming onto Cavendish’s wheel on the last corner, I thought ‘just stay here’, but then I thought he’d left it too late to sprint, so when I saw Cav go down the middle, I stuck to the left-hand side of the road all the way to the end. After we’d crossed the line I wasn’t sure if I’d won, but thankfully it soon became clear.

“It’s going to be difficult to defend the jersey with six riders, because not only do we have to control the breakaway, we have to put me in a good position for the sprints. Today Swifty called the shots perfectly, telling us how to ride and when to close the gap.

“There is pressure on us to perform here, but for a sprinter like me, that’s good. I saw how much effort my team-mates had put in so I knew I had to try my best. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but today it did and I’m very happy.”

Team Sky spent the whole day at the head of the peloton, with Fenn tapping out an unwavering tempo to keep a four-man breakaway in check.

Kennaugh, Poels and Stannard also added their muscle, and the quartet were brought back into the fold with just 1.5km left before Swift guided Viviani into contention.

When Greipel hesitated, Viviani picked the perfect moment to pounce and edged past Cavendish for his fifth win of the season.

“My condition is really good at the moment,” Viviani added in the press conference. “I was disappointed not to do better in my last races at the Vattenfall Cyclassics and GP Ouest France-Plouay – they were big goals for me – but I timed it correctly today. Sprints are won with split-second decisions and I’m happy I made the right choice out there.

“I have one eye on the World Championships, so this is a big confidence boost for that. There are a few short cobbled climbs to get over in that race, but I think I can do well. I won’t be one of the favourites there, but I’m working hard in preparation for it and I’ve shown here that my legs are good.”

Stage 1 Results

ITA 1 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY) 4:26:29
GBR 2 CAVENDISH, Mark (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
GER 3 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL)
GBR 4 DOULL, Owain (TEAM WIGGINS)
ESP 5 LOBATO DEL VALLE, Juan Jose (MOVISTAR)
NED 6 LIGTHART, Pim (LOTTO SOUDAL)
AUS 7 RENSHAW, Mark (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
USA 8 FARRAR, Tyler (MTN – QHUBEKA)
ITA 9 BETTIOL, Alberto (CANNONDALE – GARMIN)
GBR 10 BRIGGS, Graham (JLT CONDOR)

General Classification after Stage 1
ITA 1 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY) 4:26:19
GBR 2 CAVENDISH, Mark (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 4
GER 3 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 6
GBR 4 DOULL, Owain (TEAM WIGGINS) + 10
ESP 5 LOBATO DEL VALLE, Juan Jose (MOVISTAR)
NED 6 LIGTHART, Pim (LOTTO SOUDAL)

 

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