ANDRE GREIPEL WINS OPENING STAGE OF OVO ENERGY TOUR OF BRITAIN
André Greipel stormed to victory in the city of Newport, at the end of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain’s opening stage across South Wales from Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire to Newport.
The Lotto Soudal sprinter headed home Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton SCOTT) and Fernand Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) alongside the River Usk at the end of the 175-kilometre leg.
He said: “It was really tough with the final climb coming with seven kilometres to go. We knew that we needed the numbers to pull back the break, as we expected that they’d go crazy up the climb.
The team did a really good job to bring back Bob Jungels [Quick-Step Floors]”, said Greipel afterwards, having won the opening stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for a third time.
“I had a really good lead-out by Jasper de Buyst, so I’m happy that I could time it right and finish it off. We expected it to be a bunch sprint – I’m happy that I could win again.”
With the opening day victory Greipel takes both the OVO Energy Green Jersey and Wahoo Points Jersey heading into the second stage in Devon.
“Winning Stage One brings the leader’s jersey with it, which is always a nice thing,” explained the German, who now has six Tour of Britain stage wins to his name. “This is a big race, so it’s prestigious to wear the jersey in the race. We wanted to win a stage, so we’re happy that we made it possible on the first day.”
A six-rider break had swept up most of the day’s honours with Nicholas Dlamnini (Team Dimension Data) taking the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey and Matthew Bostock (Great Britain) the Eisberg Sprints Jersey. As the race rolled through Carmarthenshire, Powys and Monmouthshire it was Rory Townsend (Canyon Eisberg) who was the last to be caught approaching the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb at Belmont Hill on the edge of Newport, with under 10 kilometres remaining.
That sparked an attack from home favourite Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), with the Tour de France champion creating a move that dragged clear Quick-Step Floors duo Julian Alaphilppe and Bob Jungles over the top of the climb. The latter held on to his slender advantage until hitting Usk Way, being swept up by the BMC led peloton under the one-kilometre to go marker, before his teammate Gaviria hit out at the head of the sprint.
Behind the leading trio of riders in the bunch finish was Gabriel Cullaigh of Team WIGGINS, who took fourth on the road and the Adnams Best British Rider prize. He was presented with his award by Wales Government Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas who commented:
“I’d like to congratulate the winner of the Wales stage André Greipel – and commend all the participants of this iconic professional race today.
“Having an all Welsh stage has been fantastic for Wales – especially with the interest in cycling experiencing a boost here after Geraint Thomas’ legendary performance at the Tour de France earlier this summer. Today has been an excellent showcase of south Wales’ spectacular countryside – with a coastal start and finish a fitting route as we celebrate Wales Year of the Sea in 2018. I’d also like to thank our Local Authority partners for hosting such a successful event, as well as the volunteers and spectators who came out to give the teams a fantastic Welsh welcome.”
For full results and standings, please click here.
Highlights of Stage One are on ITV4 at 20:00 on Sunday 2 September with a repeat at 09:40 on Monday 3 September on the same channel, and available on demand via the ITV Hub.
Stage Two will take place in Devon, covering 174.9km between Cranbrook and Barnstaple on the North Devon coast, passing the holiday resorts of Ilfracombe, Woolacombe and Saunton Sands in the closing kilometres.