JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE WINS OVO ENERGY TOUR OF BRITAIN
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) was crowned the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain in London on Sunday as Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Caleb Ewan won the eighth and final stage on Regent Street St James.
Ewan, who claimed the stage victory in Central London the last time the race finished there in 2016, outsprinted Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) at the end of a frantic 77-kilometre stage.
Alaphilippe finished safely in the peloton to win the race and crown a memorable OVO Energy Tour of Britain debut. Team Sky’s Wout Poels, winner of Friday’s Queen stage from Barrow-in-Furness to Whinlatter in Cumbria, finished second overall, with former OVO Energy Green Jersey leader Primoz Roglic completing the podium in third.
“It’s a great feeling to win a race, especially when it’s the overall classification,” said Alaphilippe. “I just want to enjoy it and say thank you to all my team-mates one more time. They did a really good job all week.
“I’m really, really happy, and proud to have this new result on my palmarès. I didn’t expect that I would be able to win the overall classification in my first participation in this race.
“It was not an easy stage today; it was really fast so I was really focused until I crossed the line. Now I can be happy and proud to have won.”
Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing Team), who placed fourth overall, won the Wahoo Points Jersey, while Team Dimension Data’s Nic Dlamini finished the stage untroubled to secure the SKODA King of the Mountains Jersey.
The one competition left unresolved at the start of the day, the Eisberg Sprints Jersey, contributed to a thrilling subplot to Stage Eight. Overnight leader Canyon Eisberg’s Alex Paton claimed the jersey after a thrilling battle with nearest challenger Matt Holmes.
Holmes’ Madison Genesis team were continuously on the attack in an attempt to dislodge Paton. The opening lap saw British road race champion Connor Swift break clear with American Taylor Phinney (Team EF Education First-Drapac), a move that Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas bridged across to before it was shut down.
His team-mate and six-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome also got involved in the action, forming part of a short-lived escape with Holmes, Swift and decorated Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie).
The longest breakaway attempt of the day saw another Team Sky rider, Belarusian and former world time trial champion Vasil Kiryienka ride solo around Piccadilly, Haymarket, the Strand and Whitehall for around 25 kilometres.
By that point, Holmes had reduced the gap in the Eisberg Sprints competition to just three points approaching the final prime with 12 kilometres to go, and attacked from the peloton in pursuit on crossing the line first to level the scores, a move that ended Kiryienka’s time out front.
However Paton managed to shut down this attack down and went past him to take maximum points; an acceleration that was followed by a sporting handshake between the pair.
The sprinters’ teams then successfully controlled the closing kilometres to set up the much-anticipated bunch sprint on the uphill finish line on Regent Street. Ewan rounded the final corner in the wheel of André Greipel, winner of Stages One and Four already this week, and got the better of all of his rivals to claim an emotional victory.
The 24-year-old Australian will not race again for Mitchelton-SCOTT, the team he turned professional with in 2015, before leaving for the Belgian Lotto Soudal squad next season.
“This year hasn’t been great for me so I really wanted to finish off with a good result,” said Ewan. “I was so motivated to win this stage and I am just happy I had the strength and legs in the end.
“It was really hectic in the end and I was just lucky my team put me in perfect position. Not many guys had lead-outs in the end, I could pick the wheels that I wanted to be on and I had a really good run to the line and I felt really good as well.
“To finish off with a win means a lot to me and it gives me a bit of confidence.”
Click here for full results and final standings from the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
Highlights of Stage Eight are on ITV4 at 20:00 on Sunday 9 September, with a repeat at 11:50 on Monday 10 September on the same channel, and are available on demand via the ITV Hub (UK users only).