Viviani Regains Lead Of Tour of Britain In East Midlands

6 September 2017-09-08

Elia Viviani regained the lead of the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain after placing second on Stage 4, Mansfield to Newark-on-Trent. The Team Sky leader lost out to Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors) in the sprint to the line, but time bonuses moved Viviani ahead of Orica-Scott’s Caleb Ewan on countback.

Viviani led the General Classification after winning Stage 2 in Blyth. Ewan took his second win from three stages, in Scunthorpe, to regain the lead ahead of the Stage 4 start in Mansfield’s Leeming Street.

It was damp and drizzly as the race proper began in Annesley before a steep descent and climb into Selston. The tour continued through Eastwood, Hucknall and the grounds of Newstead Abbey before turning towards Blidworth. By now a group of five: Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Richard Handley and Alex Blain (Madison-Genesis), Jacob Scott (An Post-Chain Reaction) and Alistair Slater (JLT Condor) had put over a minute between them and their pursuers.

There was frustration in the peleton, at the lack of reaction to the break, and Bryan Lewis (Cyclance Pro Cycling) took to the pavement to pass the group and try to bridge the gap. He was followed by James Lowsley-Williams (Bike Channel-Canyon) but both were ejected from the race and disqualified for their illegal manoeuvre.

The leading five pushed the gap to over 2 minutes as the stage continued through Normanton, Bilsthorpe, Edwinstowe and Clumber Park before heading for the Category 3 climb at Eaton Wood.

Jacob Scott sprinted away from Alistair Slater, as the SKODA King of the Mountains finish was just past the summit, to take the points. Team Sky’s promising youngster Tao Geoghegan Hart led the peleton over the summit as the field made its way towards the finish in Newark.

The leading group was reeled in on the outskirts of Newark before the sprinters fought out the finish. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), still working to regain his fitness following his broken shoulder, sat in behind Roger Kluge (Orica-Scott) and Ewan as they entered the final kilometre, while Quick Step Floors were working hard to deliver Fernando Gaviria. As Gaviria burst through into the lead Elia Viviani tried to close but the Colombian held on to take his second British stage victory.

Gaviria was full of praise for his team after this win: “The boys were spectacular! Philippe (Gilbert) protected me going into the last ten kilometres, then Zdenek (Stybar) and Max (Richeze) took over and guided me in the final. I’m happy I could repay them by taking the stage. I came here after a leg injury,” he added, “so I’ve been missing a bit of condition and form, but day after day things went better and today I felt good and could take advantage of this.”

Ewan lost momentum in the final 200m and came home in 15th place, losing his GC lead to Viviani. “For sure it’s good to have the leader’s jersey back on the shoulders,” Viviani told TeamSky.com. “I’m disappointed because it was a really, really close sprint but with one of the best sprinters in the world, so it can be a good second place.”

Viviani also regained his lead in the Wiggle Points classification. Jacob Scott’s win at Eaton Wood moved him a point clear of Graham Briggs (JLT Condor) in the SKODA King of the Mountains competition. Briggs was not in contention for any of the days Eisberg Sprints, but remained 1 point ahead of Mark McNally who took advantage of his position in the breakaway group to take maximum points from all three sprints.