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After a powerful attack on a small climb with 3km to go, Dennis soloed to victory in stage 7b of the Tour of Britain; Richeze beat Groenewegen in the sprint for second and Cummings retained the lead

Photo: Sirotti

BMC RACING TEAM

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DYLAN GROENEWEGEN

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MAXIMILIANO RICHEZE

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ROHAN DENNIS

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STEPHEN CUMMINGS

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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10.09.2016 @ 18:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rohan Dennis (BMC) again confirmed that he is the in-form rider at the moment when he took a surprise win in the afternoon stage on the penultimate day of the Tour of Britain. With a strong attack on a small climb with 3km to go, he opened a gap over the peloton and then made use of his TT skills to hold off the peloton by six seconds. Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) beat Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the sprint for seconds while Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) retained the lead.

 

Going into this year’s Tour of Britain, Rohan Dennis did nothing to hide that he wanted to go for the overall win. After a year fully devoted to the TT at the Rio Olympics, he had lost some weight and still had the post-Rio form to search for glory.

 

However, Dennis played too much with the muscles in the lumpy second stage where he was unable to follow a late move from Stephen Cummings. Since then he has desperately tried to take back time but second places in yesterday’s queen stage and the time trial this morning was not enough to erase the deficit.

 

Nonetheless, a determined Dennis refused to give up and he was keen to give it another shot in the afternoon stage which took place over six laps of the time trial circuit. A small climb with 3km to go was the perfect launch pad for an attack and Dennis did everything to perfection to come away with the win in a stage that many had tipped to be for the sprinters.

 

Dennis countered attacks from Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and managed to build a 10-second advantage on the climb. He went into time trial mode and even though Etixx-QuickStep did their best to bring it back, he held the peloton off by six seconds to take the win and pass Dumoulin in the overall standings where he now sits second.

 

After the morning time trial, the riders were back on their bikes in the afternoon for stage 7b which was held over six laps of the 15km time trial circuit as a 90km criterium in Bristol. The circuit was very technical and mainly flat. However, the small climb with 2km to go was a launch pad for a late attack before the riders got to the final two flat kilometres. It was a tehnical finale with a constantly bending road in the final kilometre.

 

After the wet time trial, the riders had dry roads and cloudy conditions when they gathered for the start and there were some determined faces as they rolled through the neutral zone. Surprisingly, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) attacked as soon as the flag was dropped but he didn’t get clear. Instead, Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) gave it a go and then a Madison rider made a move. Loic Vliegen (BMC), Ruben Zepuntke (Giant-Alpecin), JLT, Amets Txurruka (Orica-BikeExchange), Wiggins and Giant-Alpecin were also active but the first attacks all failed.

 

Connor Dunne (JLT) launched an attack that created a small group which also included Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin) but they were unable to get a decisive gap. Hence, the peloton was back together when they hit the climb where Bardiani tried to force a selection.

 

Björn Thurau (Wanty) attacked over the top and then Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) gave it a shot to lead the peloton across the line for the first time. Txurruka followed the move and Bardiani were also active.

 

Suddenly, a dramatic situation occurred when the peloton had split in two and while Tony Martin 8Etixx-QuickStep) attacked, Cummings realized that he found himself in the second group. The Brit had to make his own attack to try to bridge the gap and make it back to his rivals.

 

 Cummings’ mission succeeded and a regrouping took place before Boy van Poppel (Trek) attacked. Diego Rubio (Caja Rural), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) and – surprisingly – Greipel joined the Dutchman and as the peloton slowed down, they were allowed to build an advantage.

 

Karol Domagalski (ONE) took off in pursuit but as they hit the climb for the second time, he was 35 seconds behind the leader who had 1.20 on the peloton. Greipel led Izagirre, Rubio and Van Poppel across the line in the KOM sprint, with Domagalski and KOM leader Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) picking up the final points on offer. At the second passage of the line, the gaps were 1.15 and 1.40 respectively.

 

Dimension Data went to work and it was even Mark Cavendish riding on the front the South African team. The chase quickly got more organized as Jay Thomson (Dimension Data), Ian Stannard (Sky) and Robert Power (Orica-BikeExchange) also started to work. Domagalski was soon brought back.

 

At the end of the third lap, the gap had been brought back to 1.10. Greipel led Rubio and Izagirre across the line to win the intermediate sprint.

 

During the fourth lap, Stannard, Cavendish, Power and Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) handled the pace-setting and at the next passage of the line, the gap had been reduced to 50 seconds. A little earlier, Izagirre had won the second KOM sprint ahead of Van Poppel, Greipel, Rubio Meurisse and Power.

 

The gap started to grow again and had gone out to 1.15 when Elia Viviani also came to the fore to do his share of the work for Sky. However, that didn’t have much of an effect and the gap was almost 1.20 when they hit the climb again. Here Nicola Boem (Bardiani) attacked and he quickly managed to get an advantage of 15 seconds.

 

At the start of the final lap, the front quartet had an advantage over Boem of 45 seconds while Viviani, Stannard, Thomson and Power led the peloton across the line 10 seconds. The y soon brought Boem back and reduced the gap to 40 seconds with 12km to go.

 

Greipel made a surprise attack but failed to get clear and then Izagirre countered. Van Poppel joined the Spaniard before the quartet found back together.

 

With 10km to go, the gap was still 35 seconds and Stannard, Power, Wisniowski and Thomson were now emptying themselves.

 

Greipel did his best to keep the break alive but with 6km to go, the gap was less than 10 seconds. Rubio and Van Poppel attacked while the German and Izagirre sat up.

 

Impressively, the front dup managed to maintain a 5-second advantage with 5km to go where Van Poppel dropped Rubio. However, it was all over with 4km to go.

 

Stannard set the pace in the peloton before they hit the climb for the final time. Here Jens Debusschere set a fast pace with Gallopin on his wheel. Dumoulin then tried to attack but it was Dennis who countered and got an advantage.

 

Dennis reached the top with a gap of around 10 seconds and then went into TT mode. He still held that gap when he passed the flamme rouge. Etixx-QuickStep desperately led the chase but it was too late. Dennis sprinted all the way to the line before sitting up to celebrate the win. Six seconds later Maximilano Richeze beat Dylan Groenewegen in the sprint for second.

 

Cummings finished safely in the bunch and so retained his lead with a 26-second advantage over Dennis. He now needs to survive the final stage which is held on the wel-known circuit in London. It is 6.2km long and will be done 16 times for an overall distance of 100km. It is completely flat and doesn’t have any major technical challenges. However, the final kilometre is tricky as there is a roundabout with 600m to go and then a sharp turn just 300m from the line. There will be bonus seconds on offer at the end of the 4th, 8th and 12th lap.

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