Worcester to Cardiff
And that's a wrap! The months of training, preparation and planning came to a head on King Edwards VII Avenue this afternoon.
The riders departed Worcester this morning both grateful and disappointed the week of racing was coming to a close. The weather was cold, wet and windy, a trend at this year's race. The riders set out for a 15km neutralized section in Worcester amongst huge crowds.
It was all action from kilometre 0. Attacks were coming thick and fast and the peloton was lined out after 5km.
The goal for today's stage was to retain the King of the Mountains jersey by trying to ensure the points were earned by Jacob or by preventing his competitors from picking them up on the 3 category 2 climbs along the day's route to Cardiff.
Alas, despite the teams best efforts, it was not to be. The group split just before the first categorised climb and An Post Chain Reaction had only 1 rider in the all important split, Mark Stewart.
Our 4 riders behind fought to catch the leading group but with when it became evident that the other teams in the group had no motivation of riding hard to catch the strong 53 man group ahead on the road, Jacob had to accept that it was not to be. He put in a tremendous fight.
The weather worsened as the day wore on the gap increased steadily.
With 20km of racing remaining, our European U23 track champion, Mark Stewart, attacked and joined Izagirre of Movistar in a 2 man breakaway. He courageously rode, earning a 28 second lead on the chasing teams intent on a bunch sprint.
The attack earned him the award of Most Combative Rider. A well deserved title following a brave move by such a young cyclist.
The riders completed 167 kilometres of racing before filing into Cardiff city centre for 3 laps on the finishing circuit.
With another pancake flat finish on the menu, Columbia's Gaviria was expected to have the fighting form to traverse all the three climbs with legs fresh enough to outsprint his fellow fast men!
The closing kilometres were adrenaline fuelled. The barriers were heaving with the crowds of spectators lining the circuit to catch a glimpse of the peloton fly by all 3 times, despite the heavy rain.
The General Classification remained unchanged from the day before and Lars Boom retained the green leader's jersey.
The stage itself was won by Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Overall, it was an immensely successful week at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for the An Post CRC family.
Here are the conclusions of General Manager, Kurt Bogaerts, 'Of course it was disappointing for Scott's hard work all week not to be rewarded with the Skoda King of the Mountains title but having Stewart attack like that made an otherwise disappointing day a resounding success. The guys rode well as a team and it showed this week.'