Stage 7 Tour of Britain
Friday 18 September, Hatherleigh to Yeovil 159.7kms / 99.3miles
Swift Flies in First in Yeovil
First professional win for Ben Swift and what a win it was! Photo: Splitsecondimages.co.uk
Ben Swift gave us our 1st British ToB winner of 2009, taking the sprint into Yeovil and confounding every journo who had their ‘Boasson Hagen makes it five' headline already written. In a mercilessly undulating stage which saw breaks being chased down all day, it all came together just before the end, leading everyone to believe that Edvard was going to walk away with a fifth stage victory, but Swifty had other ideas...
Top Ten (Full Results Here)
1 121 GBR Swift,Ben KAT Team Katusha 3h52'19"
2 124 ITA Pozzato,Filippo KAT Team Katusha 3h52'19"
3 21 NOR Boasson Hagen,Edvald THR Team Columbia-HTC 3h52'19"
4 71 ITA Finetto,Mauro CSF CSF Navigare 3h52'19"
5 72 ITA Marangoni,Alan CSF CSF Navigare 3h52'19"
6 16 GBR Thomas,Geraint BAR Barloworld 3h52'19"
7 63 NED Reus,Kai RAB Rabobank 3h52'19"
8 95 AUS Sutton,Chris GRM Garmin-Slipstream 3h52'19"
9 104 BEL Vandewalle,Kristof TSV Topsport Vlaanderen 3h52'19"
10 92 NED Duyn,Huub GRM Garmin-Slipstream 3h52'19"
How the race unfolded
The peloton left a rammed-to-the-rafters Hatherleigh, in full carnival mode for Stage 7. Sadly missing from the party was BikeHut's Ian Wilkinson, suffering from the nasty injuries he picked up at the stage finish in Blackpool.
It wasn't long before the attacks started. Five riders including Lequarte, tried to go clear as the race hit Okehampton, but were kept in check by the peloton. A little later, the irrepressible Boasson Hagen tried twice to jump clear in groups but the peloton but the peloton managed to hold it together, thanks to some big efforts from the CSF, Colombia and ISD - Neri teams.
As the race headed towards Crediton, Aitor Galdos (Euskatel) and Filippo Savini escaped and began to graft out a gap which had reached 56 seconds as they entered the town and hit the first sprint point. Out of the town and onto the delicious sounding Cadbury Hill, a group formed, containing Soler, Cummings, Thomas, Lequarte, Martin, Monfort, and had gained 2mins 48secs on the peloton as they topped the hill.
Meanwhile, out front, the escaping duo of Galdos and Savini kept ahead until just after Tiverton, when they were caught by the chasing group. By the time the race reached Halberton it was all back together, AG2R, Cervelo and Vacansoleil putting in the lion's share of the effort.
But on the mega-undulating roads of Devon, things were never likely to stay settled for long. As soon as the race was all back together, breakaway attempts began again, with House and Remme breaking clear.
House and Remme were allowed to build a huge lead through Honiton and Awliscombe, reaching 5mins 10 secs, making House the de-facto Yellow jersey on the road. However, as the breakaway duo descended the ultra fast Honiton Hill, the break began to be slowly reeled in. The lead didn't plummet dramatically, with House and Remme still over 4 minutes ahead as the race hit the seaside at Sidford before ascending the nasty climb of Trow Hill.
Kristian House leads the break through yet another packed town on the race route.
It wasn't until Chard that the peloton, headed by Boasson Hagen's Colombia team, finally got House and Remme in its sights. But just as it looked like we'd had all of our breaks for the day, Peterson attacked briefly but was reeled in, then Vanheule broke clear and joined House and Remme, still dangling off the front. The threesome hung on for what seemed like an age before finally being caught by the peloton at the 95 mile mark.
And so it came to the descent into the finish town of Yeovil. Barloworld's Cummings and Thomas hit the front and cranked up the pace. But as the race hit a roundabout just before the final sprint, there was a coming together which saw riders go down and the Barloworld duo skim the barriers and lose momentum, it was then that Swift and Italian teammate Pozzato took their chance, the Italian giving Swifty the perfect leadout, the pair both crossing the line with arms aloft.
Edvald Boasson Hagen
"I hope to keep it tomorrow. We have been working hard all week so it will be nice if we can keep it. I am really satisfied with the four stage wins and the yellow jersey. We were trying to control the race today but it split and then came back together before a new break went. It was good that Katusha were on the front too. In the finale, we were going very fast and did not expect the climb to be so steep. When we got over the climb, there were a lot of attacks and then there was the sprint and Katusha were very strong today. I am happy to keep the yellow jersey today. Out of the last corner they were so far in front, it was not possible (to win the stage). On whether he was worried when the break with Barloworld got away, he said "yes, I didn't expect them to attack there. I thought they were going for the KOM points but the two later on were not too dangerous for us."
"The way the race had been going where everyone wanted to be in the break so I expected people to continue attacking behind us and I had a message on the radio pretty quickly that Columbia were happy with two guys away as they could control that. We knew we were going to get a gap, it was a question of how long we could hold onto it for. It really started to hurt with about 30k to go and both of us were really struggling and the gap was coming down pretty quick."
"We had ridden the stage before the race about two weeks ago so I knew the finish and I knew if I could over the climb with the bunch I'd be safe and it was touch and go for a while on the climb. It was a block headwind out there today. The whole idea behind the break was to get time and move up the classement. When the Belgian come across, he was going some and we just sat on him and it took us closer to the climb. It was brilliant to be out there in the champion's jersey. The crowds were unbelievable and I haven't seen anything like it."
"We tried really hard early on and I thought we’d missed out. You can see what Barloworld did stirring things up a little bit, making sure they didn't hand it to Columbia on a plate. But it all came back together again and that gave us the opportunity to have a go. I’ve got to say we always thought it was probably going to fail but it’s worth a try, you never know, there may have been a big lull there towards the end. We never give up, once you’re out there you may as well give it a go. I’m pleased for him (Kristian), he’s shown his national champions jersey off in his national tour, it’s good for us, good for our sponsors."
Ben Swift proudly shows off his trophy alongside podium beauty Becky.
"Today's win was very special (his first pro victory). I came into the race with an aim for the general classification but I had some bad luck in the race (broken wheel) then yesterday I was all day in a break, and was going for stage wins and I got it today. Pozatto was going to be looking after me all day and I knew he was going to look after me at the finish which is really special in it self."
"Steve Cummings did a really good job for 'G' (Geraint Thomas) and then Pozatto took it over coming into the corners and I think there was a crash on the first corner but we got round that. We went round that really quick and opened up a gap and into the second one went a bit too quick and we both skidded down the barriers and then we opened up a bit more of a gap. Then I came round Pozatto with 150 to go and he held on for second and made it even more special."
"This is the first time I have been able to finish it off. The team have worked for me a fair few times now and I have not quite been able to quite finish it off or there has been a break away. And to do that in Britain is great. The legs were sore, very sore today after yesterday. I could definitely feel it on the climbs. Luckily the team were at the front and I had some sliding room if I needed it."
"It was a hard day all day especially with the terrain but with the crowds that were out there, it was fantastic. Any village you'd go through was lined on both sides. I was the Katusha rider for the finish. There is not much to do in the evenings so I studied the road book. Coming into this I had had a break after a heavy schedule for the first part of the season."
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS (Click for High Res Slideshow)
British Cycling is the only media with a photographer on a motorbike covering the whole race. Here are the exclusive photos of the seventh stage. Our thanks to NEG (Wales) pilot Graham Harper for his help in getting these photos. Here is the story of the stage from finish to start, top to bottom.
Ben Swift: The expression says it all. Photo: Splitsecondimages.co.uk
Steve Cummings leads the peloton into the final kilometre with Geraint Thomas tucked right in behind him.
Last break of the race, into the final 6k on narrow twisty lanes.
Final KOM and Geraint Thomas goes for it again on a day where he gave it his all to try and win the race.
A few miles before the KOM, the Katushua team try and control the race.
A Cervelo rider tries an attack after the break has been caught.
Into the final 10 or so miles, and the original break of two is joined by a Topsport rider who buries himself to try and stay clear
Time is being called on the break as the peloton comes into view behind the break.
With the break insight, a Garmin rider tries his luck up a hill to cross to them with the gap at less than 30 seconds
One examples of the huge crowds on the course as the Columbia led peloton races through a town on the race route
The peloton in 'piano' mode as the two leaders give it there all while the peloton take a breather after the efforts to chase down the Barloworld led break ealier in the stage.
Kristian House leads the two up break away from the peloton making rapid progress to a lead of more than five minutes.
After the Barloworld lead break was brought back,and a long lull in proceedings, there are more riders willing to show some attacking spirit
One photo that sums up the first half of the stage with the original two leaders, and the chase group with three Barloworld riders, all being reeled in by the Katusha led peloton at the same time.
A mid race sprint and Geraint Thomas launches himself up the road to gain some seconds
Katusha line out the peloton in pursuit of the Barloworld led break
Mauricio Soler attacks at the bottom of the long climb and takes with him two teammates and strikes panic in to the heart of the peloton. Understandably, the two Columbia riders in the break didn't work but nor did the other two from the other teams represented.
The bunch quite relaxed early on with two riders up the road.
The two leaders make hay in the countryside
Steve Cummings trying to get away
Another attack as a Garmin rider tries to give the peloton the slip
An ISD rider on the attack
Italian champion Pozatto launches a move to get away
One of the Rabobank riders attacks on the hilly route early in the stage.
People everywhere in another town on race route
A few miles from the start and this is the scene that greeted the riders.
ISD on the attack in the first few kiolmetres
Tom Southam has a dig soon after the race has started.
First attack and it comes from a Vacansoleil rider
A relaxed bunch at kilometre 0.
Prince and Princess for the event cheer the event on at the roadside.
Race rolling out from the start for the start of stage 7.