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With a late attack, Poels dropped Dennis and Dumoulin to solo to victory in the Tour of Britain queen stage; Cummings finished 8th and moved into the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti












09.09.2016 @ 18:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout Poels (Sky) bounced back from his collapse in stage 2 by taking victory in the queen stage at the Tour of Britain for the second year in a row. Having joined Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) in their attack on the Haytor climb, he made a solo move with a little more than one kilometre to go and held off the two time triallists to take the win. Dennis beat Dumoulin in the sprint for second while Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) finished 8th, limited his losses well and moved into the race lead.


Last year Wout Poels got the huge honour of leading local heroes Team Sky at the Tour of Britain. The Dutchman grabbed the opportunity in splendid fashion as he won the queen stage but unfortunately he had to settle for second in the overall battle behind Edvald Boasson Hagen.


After his fantastic Tour de France, Poels was again appointed as the leader for the British race but it all ended in disappointment. On stage 2, the Dutchman was unable to follow the best and lost almost 12 minutes to his main rivals.


The result took him out of GC contention but Poels still had a chance to strike back in today’s queen stage that finished at the top of the Haytor climb. The Dutchman proved that stage 2 was just a bad day as he managed to win the hardest stage for the second year in a row.


Poels used his teammates to make the race hard and then attentively followed the moves when GC contenders Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin attacked each other on the final climb. When the trio had gone clear, he made his own attack and as the two time triallists watched each other, he easily got a big advantage. In the end, he started to fade but he had enough to beat Dennis by 6 seconds, with Dumoulin taking third 2 seconds further back.


The other big winner was Steve Cummings who paced himself well on the climb to finish 8th at 21 seconds. As race leader Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) cracked on the climb, he moved into the lead with a 49-second advantage over Dumoulin.


After two days in lumpy terrain, it was time for the queen stage which brought the riders over 149.9km from Sidmouth to the top of the Haytor climb which was back as a summit finish for the first time since 2013, having been climbed mid-stage also in 2011 and 2014. After a tough start with an early category 2 climb, there was another category 3 climb to tackle during the lumpy ride towards the finish. Here the category 1 climb of Dunchidecock provided the riders with a first chance to make a selection. The top came with 20.3km to go and then a descent led to the bottom of the final climb. It averaged 6% over 5.4km and had its steepest section in the middle. Then a relatively flat section led to the final kilometre which was one of the hardest parts of the climb.


Unlike in the past few stages, the riders had wet conditions when they gathered for the start and all riders were still present as they rolled through the neutral zone. Unlike in the last few stages, the break was formed almost immediately as Jasper Bovenhuis (An Post), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Tom Stewart (Madison Genesis) and Miguel Benito (Caja Rural) escaped almost as soon as the flag had been dropped. After 3.5km of racing, they were already 55 seconds ahead and the gap had gone out to 2.05 when they hit the first climb. Benito beat Stewart, Bovenhuis and Visconti in the KOM sprint before Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) surged clear to take fifth place ahead of Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal) 3.15 behind the leaders. Meanwhile, Alexandre Blain (Madison) abandoned.


The gap reached 3.20 beford Etixx-QuickStep asked Lukasz Wisniowski to up the pace. The Pole kept the gap at around 3 minutes in the final part of the first hour where the peloton covered 40km. Meanwhile, Benito had to spend precious energy to rejoin the leaders following a puncture.


The front group hit the second climb with an advantage of 2.45 and it was unchanged when Benito beat Stewart, Bovenhuis and Visconti in the KOM sprint. Again Meurisse picked up the points for fifth place.


Dimension Data also came to the fore to lend Etixx-QuickStep a hand as Jay Thomson started to trade pulls with Wisniowski. Meawhile, Bovenhuis beat Benito and Visconti in the first intermediate sprint and the result was the same in the second sprint.


Lotto Soudal joined forces with Etixx-QuickStep and Dimension Data as De Buyst and Marcel Sieberg also started to ride on the front. Hence, four riders were now working well together to keep the gap stable at around 3 minutes


Maximilano Richeze took over from teammate Lukasz Wisniowski but that didn’t have much of an effect. Together with Sieberg, De Buyst and Thomson, the Argentine kept the gap completely stable at 3 minutes for several kilometres. Hence, the situation was unchanged as they hit the final 50km.


As the front group hit a small climb with 45km to go, Bovenhuis was unable to follow his three companions. Here the peloton upped the pace significantly and that created the first selection as riders were getting dropped.


The front trio responded well to the faster pace and as they hit the final 40km, they had reopened their advantage to 3.10. Bovenhuis was not getting back as he was already 1.10 behind.


With 35km to go, Sky decided that it was time to kick into action as Danny Van Poppel hit the front. Jens Debusschere also came to the fore for Lotto Soudal and as Richeze also kept riding on the front, the gap started to come down. Unsurprisingly, the peloton exploded, with Bradley Wiggins (Wiggins) being the most notable victim.


Richeze finally disappeared but Debusschere and Van Poppel rode hard, reducing the gap to 2.15 with 27km to go. Marco Coledan (Trek) who had taken a few turns a little earlier, also returned to take a few more turns.


The front group hit the penultimate climb with an advantage of 2 minutes and this prompted Visconti to go full gas. Benito was unable to follow and fell off the pace immediately. Impressively, he didn’t give up and he made it back before they reached the top.


As soon as the peloton hit the climb, BMC went full gas with Taylor Eisenhart and Taylor Phinney. Both emptied themselves and made the peloton explode before Sky took over with Van Poppel and Ian Stannard. The latter took a massive turn to string the group out, with teammates Wout Poels, Ben Swift and Nicolas Roche sitting on his wheel.


Close to the top, the gap was down to just a minute and so Visconti made his move. The Italian attacked and none of his companions could follow. While he pressed on, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) hit the front in the peloton.


Visconti reached the top with an advantage of 25 seconds over his two chasers before Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) sprinted ahead to lead Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) over the top 1.05 behind the lone Italian. Wanty went straight to work as Marco Marcato hit the front as soon as they had crested the summit.


Visconti reached the bottom of the descent and won the final intermediate sprint with an advantage of 30 seconds. The two chasers just managed to hold the peloton off to pick up the final points before they were brought back by the peloton which was led by Greipl and Stannard.


Sky took full control with Stannard and Van Poppel and Visconti realized that it made to sense to continue and so he decided to wait for the peloton. With 10km to go, it was all back together.


Stannard swung off with 7km to go and then Van Poppel held off the Cannondale train led by Jack Bauer to keep Sky on the front. However, it was Loic Vliegen (BMC) who hit the front as soon as they started the climb. Marcato then took over, with his leader Guillaume Martin sitting in second.


With 4.5km to go, Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) attacked but Rohan Dennis (BMC) passed him immediately. The Australian soon got a big advantage and while Zardini was brought back, Tony Martin started to chase for Etixx-QuickStep.


Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) took off in pursuit of Dennis and was quickly joined by Poels and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar). The trio made it back to Dennis while Martin continued to set the pace in the peloton.


As the pace in the peloton went up, race leader Julien Vermote was one of many riders to get dropped and Martin quickly waited for him. Meanwhile, Dennis and Dumoulin worked well together to maintain the advantage.


With 2.5km to go, Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) made his move and with Tony Gallopin (Dimension Data) sitting on his wheel, he managed to catch the four leaders. Further back, a group with Roche, Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale), Martin and Jacopo Mosca (Trek) formed.


Dennis made a big attack with 2km to go and only Dumoulin and Poels could follow. Dumoulin then countered but he was unable to drop his companions. Instead, it was Poels who took off, and no one could respond to the Dutchman.


While Poels increased his advantage, the Roche quartet caught the Cummings trio and those seven riders caught Dennis and Dumoulin. They did their best to catch Poels but there was no one stopping the Dutchman.


Dennis and Dumoulin split the group in the finale and started to get closer to the Dutchman but the Sky rider had enough to take the win. Dennis beat Dumoulin in the sprint for second just 6 seconds later, with Dumoulin losing another 2 seconds and Van Baarle making a late attack to take fourth.


Vermote did his best but the Belgian lost almost 2 minutes and so slipped out of the race lead. Instead, Cummings now has a 49-second buffer over Dumoulin, with Dennis sitting third 2 seconds further back. He faces hi next big test tomorrow in the 15km morning time trial in Bristol. The course is mainly flat apart from an early descent and a small 500m climb that leads to the 2km to go mark. It’s a pretty technical course with numerous turns but there are also some straight sections where it will be all about power. In the afternoon, the riders will tackle another stage, doing 6 laps of the same 15km circuit.



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