Etixx - Quick Step’s young sprinter Fernando Gaviria won stage four of the Aviva Tour of Britain in Blyth on Wednesday, as Britain’s Owain Doull strengthened his position as best British rider.
The 21-year-old Colombian overcame four-time 2015 Tour de France stage winner Andre Greipel in the sprint after a six-man breakaway was eventually caught with around 16 kilometres to go, while Doull took fourth on stage and with it the Chain Reaction Points Jersey.
The peloton rolled out of Edinburgh without stage two winner and former yellow jersey holder Petr Vakoc of Etixx - Quick Step, the Czech road champion forced to retire after his crash at the climax of Tuesday’s stage to Floors Castle.
Juan Jose Lobato del Valle of Movistar bore the yellow jersey for the 218-kilometre stage, which took riders from Scotland to England via three categorised climbs at Redstone Rigg, Ford and Alnwick.
Early in the stage six riders broke away; Alan Marangoni (Team Cannondale Garmin), Matteo Trentin (Etixx – Quick Step), Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Michael Svendgaard (Cult Energy Pro Cycling), Rob Partridge (NFTO) and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) and built a lead of over four minutes.
With a bunch sprint on the cards in Blyth and the yellow jersey to protect, the pressure was on and the pace eventually split the leading group, with Svendgaard, Partridge and Van Rensberg falling back into the bunch.
Marangoni, Trentin and Wyss held on until 16 kilometres to go before the peloton overwhelmed the trio. With Sky and Team Wiggins taking the lion’s share of the work on the front, further breakaway attempts were nullified.
And as the race passed the three-kilometre-to-go mark, Lobato’s yellow jersey was safe for a second day, leaving the teams of the sprinters to fight it out as the race neared the Northumbrian seaside town, Gaviria the eventual victor, beating Lotto Soudal’s Andre Griepel and MTN Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Team Wiggins’ Owain Doull claimed an excellent fourth place, further boosting his position as best British rider and securing the Chain Reaction Cycles points jersey ahead of Lobato.
Tao Geoghegan Hart remained Great Britain Cycling Team’s top rider, finishing in the bunch in 27th place on the same time as Gaviria to maintain his 15th place overall on general classification, 22 seconds behind the yellow jersey.
The race continues on Thursday with stage five from Prudhoe to the race’s only hilltop finish on Hartside.