Elia Viviani has won stage 2 of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, bettering his second place from the opener, but the stage wasn’t without its controversy as his win came at the expense of Edvald Boasson Hagen who was relegated from the sprint 45 minutes after crossing the line first.
Breakaway enjoys more freedom in stage 2
Another bunch sprint was expected to conclude stage 2 of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain. Seven riders got in the break of the day which formed during the 211.7km stage from Kielder Water and Forest Park to Blyth. In the move was Lukasz Owsian, returning to the break for CCC Sprandi Polkowice. Along with him were ONE Pro Cycling’s Kamil Gradek, An Post-Chain Reaction’s Jacob Scott backing up yesterday’s breakaway effort, Silvan Dillier of BMC Racing, Rory Townsend of Bike Channel-Canyon, Matt Holmes of Madison Genesis and one more rider from yesterday’s stage in Graham Briggs of JLT-Condor.
It seemed that the peloton were more willing to give the break free rein to enjoy the day a bit more this time around, allowing the break to build a lead of up to five minutes. But with Orica-SCOTT, Dimension Data and Team Sky all contributing to the chase effort, the larger breakaway margin wasn’t going to be a problem to bring back over such a long stage. The peloton proceeded to reel in the breakaway, with Matt Holmes being the last man standing from the move. He was caught with 16km remaining.
Boom & Gilbert threaten sprinters
What followed though could have easily gone the way of a lone escapee as a couple of significant strong riders attacked in the closing kilometres. Lars Boom of LottoNL-Jumbo was among them, but he was brought back reasonably quickly by Katusha-Alpecin who led the pack. Alongside Katusha-Alpecin came riders from BMC Racing, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, JLT-Condor and principally Orica-SCOTT; with the latter perched right alongside Katusha-Alpecin and intent on delivering Ewan to a second stage win.
On the left hand side of the road Dimension Data moved forward while through the middle ONE Pro Cycling also tried to get themselves set up for the sprint with less than 10km to go. Another attack was waiting to go though, and Philippe Gilbert was the man to take it on. The former world champion attacked with 8.6km remaining and put in a big effort to try and stay clear, with the sprint trains seemingly getting into gear and upping the speed.
It was impressive to note the ease with which Gilbert was able to escape, and establish a small 5 second or so lead. Gilbert managed to maintain that lead well approaching 5km to go as behind him the peloton were forced to string out in pursuit of him; with Team Sky taking a lead role in bringing him back. The peloton were too strong though, and with 4.9km to go it was all together once again.
Boasson Hagen wins, but doesn’t
From here things settled down a bit in terms of attacks, but the pace was hot. Team Sky and Dimension Data were the two most prominently on the front, but Orica-SCOTT were also on hand, although Caleb Ewan wasn’t quite in the ideal position. Team Sky kept onwards with Michael Kwiatkowski led the peloton with a very strong pace, but he was finally superseded by Bernard Eisel who led the field through 1km to go. Elia Viviani looked best positioned though for now, until suddenly Edvald Boasson Hagen came through with a very well timed acceleration on the back wheel of Mark Renshaw. Boasson Hagen went for home in the final couple of hundred metres and looked very strong, but crucially he deviated from his line enough to upset the sprint of Elia Viviani.
Boasson Hagen crossed the line first, but was reluctant to celebrate initially possibly because of the way he’d veered off his line. Elia Viviani had no problem making his feelings known after crossing second, gesturing strongly that he was not happy with the sprint; and eventually launching a protest. Boasson Hagen might also have impeded the sprint of Caleb Ewan behind Viviani with is move, with the Tour leader finishing fourth behind Dylan Groenewegen.
Eventually after a long deliberation it was decided that Boasson Hagen had to be relegated from the sprint and the win given to Elia Viviani. Patrick Bevin of Cannondale-Drapac and Hayden McCormick of ONE Pro Cycling finished 27th and 28th with Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Robert 35th, Regan Gough of An Post-Chain Reaction 57th, James Oram of ONE Pro Cycling 73rd, and Taylor Gunman of Madison-Genesis 103rd and all with the same time as Viviani.