Hemel Hempstead to Cheltenham
The penultimate stage of the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain visited no less than four counties: Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
The 187km stage departed Hemel Hempstead, last visted by the race in 2014 when Alex Dowsett took the race lead. The riders were grateful of a bright and warm morning following a day of unrelenting wind and rain during stage 6.
Attacks came thick and fast as soon as the flag dropped. Within 5km of racing, the peloton was lined out but no breaks had been established.
Within 15km a group had pushed clear of the fast-paced peloton. A group of nine riders had a gap of 7 seconds but the ruthless peloton brought it back.
After 31km of racing, 3 riders had gone clear and had a 3'30 advantage over the peloton. An Post CRC's Jacob Scott was chasing hard behind with a 28" gap and 2 riders for company.
3 became 6! Jake joined the leading group and the 6 leading riders held a 3'50 advantage over the peloton with 35km covered of stage 7, the second longest stage of the week. Despite the bright start to the morning, the rain soon started to fall heavily.
With 60km covered, the riders approached the first Skoda King of the Mountains climb of the day on Brill Hill. The 3 category climb was was won by Jacob pushing him further into the lead in the classification.
The three sprint opportunities were contested by the breakaway riders. Jacob took the sprint points on offer for second place in Mourton in Marsh with 46.9km to Cheltenham.
Today was to prove conclusive for our Skoda King of the Mountains, Jacob Scott.
The second opportunity to earn some Skoda King of the Mountains points came at the crest of the category 3 climb of Bourton-on-the-Hill. Scott again showed his strength taking the maximum points with first place. The rain was falling hard on the riders.
With 32km remaining on stage 7, the breakaway was caught by Tony Martin (Katusha Alpecin). He was chased by Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) and race leader Lars Boom (Lotto NL Jumbo). The race was all together with 30km remaining.
The final climb of the day saw the peloton ascend the category 2 Cleeve Hill just 9km from the stage finish in Cheltenham.
Here's what our Director Sportif Neil Martin had to say about how the stage unfolded, 'It went exactly to plan today. We wanted Jake in the break to score maximum mountains points. He's been increasing his lead point by point. It's unfortunate that the guy second in the classification was in the break too but of course they are marking each other. We'll see how tomorrow goes and hopefully he can retain the jersey.'
Lars Boom remains leader of the General Classification wearing the green leader's jersey on tomorrow's eighth and final stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, 2017