A third consecutive podium finish for Patrick Bevin has seen him strengthen his overall lead on the eve of the team time trial at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain. Bevin finished third behind Andre Greipel and Sacha Modolo, while Hayden McCormick had a big day out in the breakaway.
Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa was 183.5km in length and was the last chance for the sprinters before the team time trial that would be one of the more decisive stages in the GC battle. One first category climb featured at just over the halfway mark; with 86km to go, with two more second category climbs before the finish.
It was a day that Hayden McCormick of ONE Pro Cycling opted to chance his arm in the breakaway. The Kiwi jumped into the move that featured stage 1’s KOM leader Nic Dlamini of Dimension Data, Tom Moses of JLT Condor, Paul Ourselin of Direct Energie Matthew Holmes of Madison Genesis and Alex Paton of Canyon Eisberg. With 94km to go the gap to the peloton was sitting at 2.24mins.
Back in the peloton there was a joint effort going on at the front of the field, with Quick-Step Floors, Mitchelton-Scott, BMC Racing and Lotto Soudal all contributing to the chase effort; while Team Sky kept an eye on matters just behind them. The category 1 climb saw Matthew Holmes take maximum points ahead of Nic Dlamini. McCormick contested both of the intermediate sprints earlier in the day and opted not to contest the KOM climb; as Holmes led the break through with a lead of 2 minutes.
Patrick Bevin spent the day looking confident and comfortable in the green leader’s jersey with a BMC Racing team who are well versed in protecting the overall leader. Bevin himself had spent the best part of a week looking after Greg van Avermaet’s overall lead in the Tour de France earlier in the season. Now he was on the receiving end of support from the team.
At 63km to go the time gap had gone down to 1.45mins with the peloton strung out over a few hundred metres in pursuit. That gap dropped to 1.30mins with 48km to go and at the summit of the next KOM climb the gap was down to 1.24mins as Holmes again took maximum points. Back in the peloton EF Education First-Drapac got involved in the chase, with Bevin always sitting around fifth or sixth wheel. Following the second KOM climb Dlamini dropped back to the bunch, leaving five riders up ahead.
The final sprint of the day before the finish saw Holmes take the points again, with the gap to the bunch down to 1.03mins. It was with 20km to go though that the break’s lead finally dropped below the minute mark. Rather than one team dominating matters in the peloton, Quick-Step Floors and Lotto Soudal continued to combine along with BMC Racing at the front of the race.
Knowing that the bunch were closing Hayden McCormick launched the first attack from the break with 14km to go; shaking Tom Moses off the group. The peloton had closed to within 23 seconds and the intensity was beginning to rise, as Ourselin was the next to attack from the breakaway. This time only Holmes and McCormick could go with the move but the three riders were committed; and with 5km to go they held a lead of just under 10 seconds.
As the sprint trains began to form behind them Ourselin tried once again, this time seeing only McCormick go with him and holding a 5 second gap with 4km to go. Katusha-Alpecin and Dimension Data finally led the catch with 3.6km to go. From here it was all about the sprint and Patrick Bevin and Julian Alaphilippe were both well positioned as Team Sky took over on the front of the race.
The pace towards the finish was very high as Lotto Soudal got into position with 2km to go. EF Education First-Drapac took over on the front of the pack with 1.8km to go for Sacha Modolo with Lotto Soudal and Quick-Step Floors poised. Alaphilippe struck on the front of the peloton with just under 1.5km to go; with Bob Jungels on his wheel. Patrick Bevin was slightly out of position back in the bunch; sitting maybe 15th-20th wheel at this stage.
But through the final corner with 300m to go Bevin surged forward and attacked to hit the front of the race clear of the sprinters by a bike length or so. But Andre Greipel launched off of the wheel of Taylor Phinney who was just behind the Kiwi and took Modolo with him to deny Bevin the stage. Credit to Bevin though, he continued with his effort and picked up valuable bonus seconds and the lead in the points classification; as well as a bit more of a lead overall. With the team time trial tomorrow Bevin now leads Cameron Meyer by 4 seconds, with Julian Alaphilippe third at 6 seconds and Jasha Sutterlin 4th at 16 seconds.