Andre Greipel has gotten his Tour of Britain campaign off to the perfect start. The German national champion won the Tour of Britain stage 1 ahead of Caleb Ewan of Orica-BikeExchange and Ramon Sinkeldam of GIANT-Alpecin while a crash brought down the likes of Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data in the finale.
Williams in control of KOM for ONE Pro
The Tour of Britain stage 1 took the field from Glasgow to Castle Douglas, a 161.6km day out in the saddle featuring three category 3 climbs before the flat run in to the finish. It was expected to be a day for the sprinters as the road headed south; but as expected a breakaway did establish itself and take off up the road. The leading group featured two riders from An Post-Chain Reaction in Emiel Wastyn and Jasper Bovenhuis, with Jonathan McEvoy of NFTO, Thomas Moses of JLT-Condor and ONE Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams all in the mix.
It took a little over 20km for the break to establish a lead of four minutes. That done, Dimension Data moved to the front to control the break and limit their advantage. They shared the workload with LottoNL-Jumbo with Mark Cavendish and Dylan Groenewegen being looked after for their respective teams. The work of these two teams, combined with Lotto Soudal, served to bring back the break’s lead to 2.30mins before the first KOM climb.
Spoilt for choice in sprinters teams
It was Thomas Moses who took maximum points at the first KOM ahead of Peter Williams. But Williams’ consistency saw him eventually take over the lead on the next two categorised climbs to sit in the KOM jersey at the end of the day; the same jersey he’d won last year at the same race.
With 43km left to race the gap from break to bunch was sitting at just over 2 minutes but falling steadily. For now Dion Smith and Hayden McCormick could sit back with teammate Williams in the break. 30km from the finish the gap was plummeting far too fast. Emiel Wastyn decided to stretch his legs as the peloton decided to ease off the pace. With 27km to go Wastyn had a lead of 20 seconds over the chasers with the peloton at one minute.
The rest of the break mopped Wastyn up but that didn’t stop him having another go or two while with 12.5km left to race the peloton were just 15 seconds behind. His efforts cost him though as he would eventually be caught and dropped by the break and then mopped up by the peloton before the rest of the break also got swept up again.
Lotto Soudal in control
With 8km remaining Lotto Soudal and Trek-Segafredo shared the pace setting at either sides of the road. Orica-BikeExchange and Cannondale-Drapac had small delegations towards the front with LottoNL-Jumbo also visible at the front. For Lotto Soudal though it very much looked like business as usual, a drill they’d rehearsed many times before; with all six riders in the train and Andre Greipel right with them.
Up the middle of the road ONE Pro Cycling were making a move with four riders present. With 6km to go it was all to play for with four of five dominant teams at or near the front. Hayden McCormick was sitting second wheel in the ONE Pro Cycling train, but noticeably there were no Dimension Data riders on the front as they hit five kilometres to go. They’d appeared to decide that Andre Greipel’s train was the one to mark, and they sat just next to them in the peloton but still with several riders ahead of them on either side of the road.
Crash for Cav as Greipel cruises to win
The tension began to rise with the knowledge that there was a tricky left hand bend coming with 400m left to race. The bunch were still 3km from the finish but now LottoNL-Jumbo just started to muscle out Trek-Segafredo on the right side of the road. Next to them were ONE Pro Cycling, who had JLT Condor on their wheels.
With 2.6km to go ONE Pro Cycling just began to drop back a bit as Team Sky began to mix things up along with GIANT-Alpecin who made a very strong move on the right side of the road. With 2km to go there was no clear dominating team but all the major contenders were there and well positioned. 1.5km from the finish Orica-BikeExchange suddenly made a strong push to the front of the race. Under the kite for 1km left, Ben Swift led the way for Team Sky, but Orica-BikeExchange and Lotto Soudal led the way with the boys in red looking very comfortable. After navigating the final bend safely Andre Greipel had clear road with his team and he easily took the stage win ahead of a fast charging Caleb Ewan.
A crash on the final corner brought down Dylan Groenewegen and Mark Cavendish along with a number of others from Team Sky, Movistar and Cannondale-Drapac amongst others.
Jack Bauer of Cannondale-Drapac was the highest placed Kiwi after stage 1. Bauer finished alongisde teammates Ruben Zepuntke and Sebastian Langeveld in 22nd place with Dion Smith, Hayden McCormick and Madison Genesis’ Taylor Gunman all arriving home in the peloton.