Stage 5 Tour of Britain
Wednesday 16 September, Stoke-on-Trent to Stoke-on-Trent 134.0kms/83.3miles
Stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen. Photo: Splitsecondimages.co.uk
Edvald Boassen Hagen made it a very fine hat-trick of stage wins with yet another beautifully timed run to the line after a top lead out from his Columbia HTC team in as stage 5 of the Tour of Britain finished in Stoke on Trent. The day saw more determined breaks, but once again the big guns of the leading teams reeled them in and forced another bunch sprint finish.
Results (Full stage results including GC)
1 Boasson Hagen,Edvald Team Columbia-HTC 3h15'57"
2 Pozzato,Filippo Team Katusha @ s/t
3 Downing,Russell Candi-TV-Marshalls Pasta @ s/t
4 Galdos,Aitor Euskatel Euskadi @ s/t
5 Clarke,Simon ISD-Neri @ s/t
6 Honig,Reinier Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team @ s/t
7 De Negri,Pierpaolo ISD-Neri @ s/t
8 Sconamiglio,Carlo Barloworld @ s/t
9 Sutton,Chris Garmin-Slipstream @ s/t
10 Finetto,Mauro CSF Navigare @ s/t
The fifth stage of the 2009 Tour of Britain continued the theme of flattish opening kilometres, followed by a hilly mid stage section and a fast run in to the finish. More sunshine greeted the riders, though there was a cold edge to the stiffish breeze which was felt on the more exposed sections of the route.
Early attacks have also been a recurring theme this week and it looked like another was underway when a group of eight, including Geraint Thomas, Dan Lloyd and Russ Downing broke free soon after the flag dropped. They were joined by another seven riders, including Cummings, Pozzato and Kirchen. Not surprisingly, with that sort of firepower, they were a major cause of concern to the teams of the leading contenders and, after a brief lull, an all-out chase brought them back.
Next to chance their arm, soon after the first sprint at Stone - which was won by Reimer from Lequatre and Downing - were Ben Swift and Vacansoleil's Michael Golas. Geraint Thomas, perhaps still hurting a little from his badly-timed puncture yesterday, was soon across the gap and working hard to help them. However, the peloton, seemingly less tolerant of breaks than in previous stages, was soon after them and they were gobbled up.
However, the constant attacks continued and finally one gelled into a move of significance and began to build up a significant lead. The three riders who initiated it - Davide Appollonio, Rapha's Darren Lapthorne and Cervelo Test Team's Dan Fleeman - were soon being chased down by Agritubel's Vogondy and AG2R's Sonnery. The latter faded, but Vogondy continued his pursuit of the leading three as they rapidly built up a six minute lead over a suddenly more relaxed peloton.
Vogondy's chase became something of an epic as the wind and terrain slowed him and it was only when the leading trio reigned things in considerably that he was finally able to bridge the gap after some 30km out on his own. There was clearly a lot of input into this from the various team-managers as they debated with the riders at to what the best strategy was. Meanwhile, the leaders had actually lost a good chunk of their advantage in the process, but four riders are a lot stronger then three, so there was logic to the move to come together: at the foot of Gun Hill, the signature climb of the day, coming just after half distance, their lead was under three minutes.
After Darren Lapthorne went back to the bunch, three riders persisted with the break but the bunch can be sen closing in but the break put up a lot of resistence
They continued to hold off the main field as they cruised past big crowds in the town of Leek, with the main field chasing hard. The final climb of any significance, Chedderton, saw Lapthorne tiring and he drifted off the back of the lead group, reducing it to just three riders. Their lead was coming down all the time and Columbia HTC had come to the front, driving the chase, not doubt with another Boasson Hagen stage win firmly in their minds.
Lapthorne was a tired looking rider when he was caught and he went pretty much straight out of the back of the main field too, his day having fallen apart in a short 30 minutes on tough roads. His fellow escapees held on as long as they could, but they were inevitably pulled back. Marangoni tied to counter with a hard attack just before he was caught, but in the end it all came to nothing and with 5km to go to the finish, the race was all back together and thoughts once again turned to another bunch sprint.
With a large crowd awaiting - including a big contingent of young cyclists who had spent the day entertaining the spectators with Go-Ride sessions and races - the Columbia HTC and Katusha teams went to the front to try to set up the sprint for Boasson Hagen and Filippo Pozzato respectively. The Stoke finale is becoming something of a classic, with a long dragging hill followed by a roundabout and a tight finish on a corner. Boasson Hagen won in fine style here last year and he once again used his amazing power to claim that remarkable third win in a row, pulling several lengths clear in the final 300m to destroy the opposition.
Boassen Hagen now leads the race overall by 9 seconds from long-time leader Kai Reus, with Chris Sutton third a further five seconds back. Russ Downing is the best placed Brit in fifth at 29 seconds and with over 50 riders within a minute of the lead, the race is still wide open with some tough stages still to come.
Meanwhile, breakaway hero De Gendt still leads the mountains and sprints competitions by big margins, despite a couple of quieter days. Boasson Hagen has a slender 2 point lead over first stage winner Chris Sutton in the Points competition, whilst Russ Downing's consistent finishing sees him hovering menacingly in third.
Dan Fleeman winning the KOM at Gun Hill where the crowds were as expected, huge...
“By the time I got to the break I was quite exhausted which is why I didn’t have a lot left at the end when we were close to the finish. I rode at maximum to catch them. I came in with the peloton at the end and have no regrets it is just a shame that we were caught with only 5 kilometres from the end. It was also good for our sponsor to have some one ahead.”
“It has been our plan to attack in the race. For the last two years we have won and we have the same strategy but this year the general is finished so we will be aiming to win stages. It was tough today and we will take the race by surprise one day!”
Edvald Boasson Hagen: “I am really happy to win today after the hard work by the team. I tried to save energy early on and then tried to split the group in the cross winds but it came together again and we decide to keep it together and go for a sprint. I am really happy to have won three stages after I did the same last year. But I could never do it without the team.”
“The course was hard with the wind and up and down all day. Finish was tricky but nice. The hills were okay because we did not go really fast. We had planned to try and split the group on the climbs but we decide to do it before. Ag2R had also the same plan so we joined them. It is nice to win stages and have the yellow jersey. Last year I lost it but this year I have the possibility to keep it. We have a strong team and so I hope we can defend it.”
Russell Downing gets in another move
Russell Downing: “I went on the attack early doors and got in some moves. I was gassed for the sprint (at Stone) but it was good to claw back a second on the overall. On the early break he was in, he explained “I was giving it full gas and when it came back after the sprint, I just parked up and went to the back to recover.”
“Columbia did try and succeeded in splitting the field in the cross winds over the top but I was in about 10th wheel and comfortable. In the sprint it was lined out as we turned left and to the roundabout and I’d managed to get myself on sixth or seventh wheel.” He ended by saying he’s recovering well which is a sign of good form.
Quotes from Rapha Condor after stage 5 in Stoke thanks to Paul Rowlands
Darren Lapthorne: "I thought there was a chance we could stay away for the finish but they really wound it up with about 20km to go. It’s been a bit of a long tour for me so far so I just had to call it a day when the peloton was only thirty seconds behind as I thought we were going to get caught anyway, but I think it was still successful. Just to make the break, that was the goal and to be represented up there so I’m pleased about that. To be in the move twice in the tour so far I’m pleased about that. A couple of days to go yet, hopefully another move by any of us will be a great result."
A team manager comes up and tells the break of the rider just behind as Darren waits for the verdict of whether to ride or not
Tom Southam: "Not a lot to say, it’s just the same thing every day. I think definitely tomorrow, or the next day... maybe it’ll just end like this, we go like this and it’ll just end a big wet damp squib...or it won’t! I think it’ll just be controlled now, Columbia don’t look like they’re going to lose it, so I’ll just have to look for a breakaway."
Asked about Boassen Hagen: "He’s the fastest on the flat, he’s the fastest on the hills, his teams the best, they’ve got a good team here, you know, a good squad, all good riders really. They’re serious about winning it aren’t they?"
Asked about if todays outcome affects how he approaches the next two days: "Not really, I mean i”m not on the GC and I’m not out of it so if I do get in a break they’re not going to let me stay away which is kind of annoying. I’ll still be within a minute of the lead, as will Kristian so if we do get away it’ll be a break that gets pulled back I think, so we’ll just see what there is really."
Asked about what happened on the windier roads over the moorlands mid stage: "It split immediately with Columbia, there was about ten of them and then Barloworld started riding behind, it never really got more than a few seconds. Columbia weren’t really committed to breaking it up, they didn’t need to so why would they bother."
Kristian House: "It went a couple of times early on. There’s a big group of ten or fifteen riders who got away but just one team must have missed out and they chased it down so it was a bit nervous. You think it’s going to go, I attacked a couple of times early on just to try and see what would happen, who would chase. I got away twice but it just came back. Once Lappers (Darren Lapthorne) group went away you knew what kind of day it was going to be and after that you just had to pay attention and be at the front otherwise inevitably something would go but it didn’t. So here we are again."
Asked about Columbia’s stranglehold on the race: "They’ve got no reason to do otherwise, it’s working for them and they’re probably strong enough to actually control it so it doesn’t even matter if people do attack, they’ll just bring it back if it’s too many people."
British Cycling is the only media with a photographer on a motorbike covering the whole race. Here are the exclusive photos of the fifth stage. Our thanks to NEG (Wales) pilot Graham Harper for his help in getting these photos.
The race gets underway in Stoke in bright sunshine
British Champion Kristian House shares a joke with riders wearing jerseys from the race, Sprint and King of the Mountains
Riders pass the Kilometre 0 marker and racing is ready to get underway
And it's an Agritubel rider that starts the action.
Then an AG2R rider with Kristian House ready to counter behind
Ben Swift makes a move and is joined by British riders Russell Downing and Geraint Thomas as well as Aussie Simon Clarke
Simon Clarke makes a move of his own to get away from the peloton
Ian Stannard chases down a break
Geraint Thomas leads a move with Russell Downing, Kristian House and Daniel Lloyd
Steve Cummings leads a group that is slightly clear of the peloton
Yet another move trying to get something going
Ben Swift goes clear and Geraint Thomas chases to get in on the action
AG2R drag the peloton after a break
Dan Fleeman leads the trio away with Darren Lapthorne making his second big break of the race.
An AG2R rider chases the trio out front but after a long chase, sits up and goes back to the peloton
Former French champion Nicolas Vogondy who was very prominent in the Tour de France chases the trio out front and after 30 kilometres of chasing, made it up to them.
The two riders last seen sharing a joke at the start were also in action chasing king of the mountains points and sit up to wait the peloton after it let them go and sprint it out at the top of the climb
The break which had Darren Lapthorne, Dan Fleeman, Nicolas Vogondy and Alan Marangoni.
Team Columbia were the team that took on the role of controlling the race in the peloton
Thumbs up from race leader Kai Reus
Great effort from Dan Fleeman who had a lot of support out on the road
Sitting just over a K from the finish, on the climb into Stoke, Team Katusha are setting it up for Pozzato who finished second.
Alan Marangoni wins the KOM sprint at Wooton Hill