At the end of the fourth stage of this year’s event, it was Michal Kwiatkowski that led the 2014 Tour of Britain cycling competition. Liverpool, Bristol and Worcester had already been visited by the race route; whilst four different cyclists had led the race on each of the four stages.
For Britain’s leading lights there had been mixed fortunes. Mark Cavendish crashed early on during the first stage; and although he gained back some impressive time to finish 3rd in the sprint at the finale, he was never in a position to challenge Marcel Kittel – the first stage victor.
For reigning champion Bradley Wiggins, there were still faint hopes of a victory in the overall classification; although Wiggo admitted that ‘first place had gone’ for him following the halfway point of the race. Home fans still remained hopeful however, and there was plenty more exciting cycling to come.
The yellow jersey was retained for the first time at this year’s Tour of Britain, but there was another different stage winner. Matthias Brandle of Austria emerged victorious at the end of the 177.3km cycle from Exmouth to Exeter.
Brandle said following the stage: “It’s a strange race. All the first 20 riders are dangerous, so there’s not one name you have to keep an eye on. I had the feeling a bit before the climb that I was the strongest and you don’t want to risk losing the win by waiting.”
“By the finish you have 20 climbs in your legs, so it’s different to other races,” he went on to add. The IAM cyclist made his move on the rest of the breakaway riders to push ahead for his victory; which was achieved in front of some impressive crowds in Exeter.
Bradley Wiggins could only manage a 36th-placed finish, although he did manage to remain in 6th position in the overall classification standings.
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Home nation cyclist Alex Dowsett pleased crowds over the sixth stage route from Hemel Hampstead to Bath, emerging with the lead in the overall classification – previous leader Michal Kwiatkowski could only manage a 19th-placed finish.
Dowsett told ITV4 after the race: “It was the hardest day of my life. I just thought they were letting us out to bring us back and I was a bit hacked off with myself because I thought I could have a good time trial but I was leaving a lot out on the road and I might have given too much.”
The 205.7km route saw the longest stage distance yet at this year’s race, with Matthias Brandle claiming the title on the day to seal his second stage victory in as many days. That day left Kwiatkowski and Edoardo Zardini occupying second and third respectively behind Dowsett in the overall standings.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Julien Vermote took the seventh stage after emerging at the head of the breakout group. Impressively, he secured his victory 23 seconds ahead of his nearest challengers – Ignatas Konovalovas and Dylan van Baarle.
Stage 7 was the longest of this year’s Tour of Britain, at a distance of 225.1km. Travelling from Camberley to Brighton, there was plenty of excitement for the watching fans to take in. Van Baarle was understandably delighted with his new standing, although he did admit to tiredness setting in:
“My time trial’s not bad,” he said looking ahead to the final day of competition. “After today it will be a little bit harder but I will try my best and we will see what happens.”
Van Baarle’s cautious statement came because of the relatively low 19 second lead he now held over Michal Kwiatkowski at the end of the day. Kwiatkowski is notorious for his time trial ability – key for the eighth and final stage.
At the end of stage 7, Kwiatkowski and Zardini remained in their respective podium positions of second and third, with Alex Dowsett replaced by van Baarle. Sir Bradley Wiggins was now within 47 seconds of the lead down in seventh place.
Got a Couple More Minutes?
Got a Bit Longer?
Sir Bradley Wiggins finally came to life to claim his first stage victory at this year’s Tour of Britain in the individual time trial in London. Wiggo showed his best form over the 8.8km flat circuit on the bank of the Thames to secure a time of 9 minutes 50 seconds – 8 seconds faster than closest finisher Sylvain Chavanel.
Whilst it was a good day for Wiggins, the overall classification was all but sealed by Dylan van Baarle; who has come on strongly towards the end of this year’s competition. After the race, Wiggins spoke of mixed emotions regarding his win:
“I’m pleased to have won the time trial in London. That was obviously the goal at the start of the week as well as the GC. I’m up to third now so it’s not a bad defence of the title. I’m just pleased to be back in London racing and winning.
“It’s been a really exciting race and it’s been changing every day,” he continued. “Who would have predicted this at the start of the week? Now Dylan can Baarle is going to run out the overall winner. When you look at how tough the race has been, whoever won it was going to deserve it.”
Stage 8b concluded this year’s Tour of Britain, with Dylan van Baarle securing the overall victory as expected. He’d all but made it inevitable with a strong showing over the final few stages, leaving the sprint battle between Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish as the highlight.
To the disappointment of many fans in London, Kittel out-sprinted Cavendish just as he did in the first stage – although at least this time the Manx Missile was able to push the German all the way. Kittel’s strong showing saw him claim his second stage victory from this year’s competition.
Following the race, general classification winner Van Barrle said: “I didn’t really win the race today; I won it in Brighton yesterday. It was tough to defend my jersey in a time trial against Kwiatkowski, but I did it and I’m very happy. I will remember this day for my whole life.’
Michal Kwiatkowski finished as the overall runner-up, 10 seconds behind the Dutch victor. Bradley Wiggins held on to third place; finishing a further 12 seconds back from Kwiatkowski.
Peak District Cycling
Have you been inspired by the pros to get out cycling around Britain? There aren’t many places better to do this than in the Peak District. Peak District cycling has been attracting cyclists in the local area and from further afield for years; and we at Wheelie Good Guys are perfectly placed to offer advice on great local routes there.
We’re based in Sheffield – right on the doorstep of the Peak District – and have been cycling in the area for many years. Check out our Peak District Cycling page to explore some of the great routes we’ve covered so far.
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It is important to stay safe whilst you are out cycling and at Wheelie Good Guys we are champions of cycling safety. None of the work we do however; would be possible without the help if Ian Brown. Ian is the UK Cycling Speedway Commissioner; as well as a personal injury solicitor for Wosskow Brown.