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Positioned perfectly behind the Lotto Soudal train, Viviani took a dominant stage win in the bunch sprint on stage 3 of the Tour of Britain; Lobato finished second and took over the race lead from Vakoc who crashed in the finale

Photo: Dubai Tour

ELIA VIVIANI

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JUAN JOSE LOBATO

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MATTEO TRENTIN

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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08.09.2015 @ 16:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Sky) firmly established himself as the leading sprinter in the Tour of Britain by taking his second stage win on stage 3 of the race. Having positioned himself perfectly behind the Lotto Soudal train, he responded to a long sprint from Sondre Holst Enger (IAM) whom he easily passed to take the win. Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) finished second and moved into the race lead after Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) crashed with 4km to go.

 

Going into the Tour of Britian, many expected the sprint stages to be a battle between André Greipel and Mark Cavendish. However, after two battles between the fast finishers, it is Elia Viviani who has firmly established himself at the top of the hierarchy.

 

Viviani beat the two sprint giants in a direct battle in stage 1 and after yesterday’s stage proved to be too tough for him, he was back on top in today’s stage. However, both Greipel and Cavendish decided to play team roles in today’s sprint and so Viviani was up against different competition, with Juan Jose Lobato and Matteo Trentin completing the podium.

 

After the climb, final climb with 24km to go, a strong front trio with Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro) and Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis) still had an advantage of 2.05 over the peloton. Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin) had whittled the peloton down on the ascent and Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Ian Stannard (Sky) and the Cannondale-Garmin pair of Alan Marangoni and Sebastian Langeveld took over the pace-setting after the top. They slowly managed to bring the gap down and it was 1.45 as they entered the final 15km.

 

With 10km to go, the gap dropped to less than a minute and it was still a determined chase effort from Langeveld, Marangoni, Stannard and Ligthart. The Italian finally blew up but the other three riders continued to bring the gap down and it was only 35 seconds with 8km to go.

 

As they entered the final 5km, Stannard, Ligthart and Langeveld had brought the gap down to just 15 seconds and one kilometre later it was only 8 seconds. Meanwhile, the sprint trains were getting organized and it was Tinkoff-Saxo that moved into the front positions behind the three hard-working domestiques.

 

That’s when disaster struck for Petr Vakoc who hit the deck hard and was sitting on the ground, holding his wrist. Meanwhile, the battle for the stage win intensified as Fabian Wegmann (Cult) hit the front after the break had been brought back with 3.5km to go.

 

Peter Kennaugh (Sky) took over the pace-setting as they entered the final 3km, followed by his teammate Ben Swift and the Movistar pair of Alex Dowsett and Juan Jose Lobato. The British team continued to ride on the front until Tinkoff-Saxo took over with Nikolai Trusov at the 2km to go mark.

 

The Russian team went head to head with Lotto Soudal who came out on top when Sean De Bie, André Greipel, Marcel Sieberg and Jens Debusschere lined out on the front. De Bie swung off after the flamme rouge where Greipel took over.

 

Andy Fenn had dropped Elia Viviani off on Debusschere’s wheel Greipel rode on the front until less than 500m remained. When Sieberg prepared to do the lead-out, Sondre Holst Enger launched a long sprint and this destroyed the plans for Lotto Soudal. Viviani was quick to respond and slotted into second behind the Norwegian before he easily passed him to take the stage win. Lobato took second while Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) narrowly passed Enger to take third.

 

With Vakoc crashing in the finale, Lobato took over the race lead with a 10-second advantage over Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka). He will have a solid chance to defend his position in tomorrow’s stage which should be significantly easier. After a flat start, there’s an early category 2 climb and then a pair of category 3 climbs before the riders get to the final 70km which are predominantly flat

 

A lumpy stage

After yesterday’s hilly stage, the terrain was a bit flatter in stage 3 which brought the riders over a massive 216 from Cockermouth to Floors Castle in Kelso. After a flat first half, the terrain got harder in the second part where the riders tackled three category 2 climbs along the lumpy roads. The final summit was located 24.3km from the finish and from there it was a downhill and flat run to the finish.

 

It was another sunny day in Great Britain when the riders gathered for the start and as it is always the case in the British race, it was a fast first part with lots of attacks. Finally, six riders managed to get clear and as the peloton slowed down, Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), Aidis Kruopis (An Post), Russell Downing (Cult), Matt Cronshaw (Madison), Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro) and Jonathan McEvoy (NFTO) had an advantage of 4.10 after 30km of racing.

 

Kruopis wins the sprints

Kruopis beat Downing and Farrar in the first intermediate sprint and the Lithuanian champion was again the fastest in the second sprint where he held off Bialoblocki and Farrar. As the sextet entered Scotland and the final 120km, they had an advantage of around 6 minutes that was kept stable by the Etixx-QuickStep pair of Mark Renshaw and Fernando Gaviria.

 

Kruopis was unable to make it three in a row as he was beaten by Bialoblocki in the third sprint, with Downing taking third, and so Peter Williams (One Pro) managed to hold onto his sprints jersey. Meanwhile, Gaviria and Renshaw still kept the gap at around 6 minutes as they went up the first climb where Farrar beat Cronshaw in the KOM sprint.

 

The chase gets organized

As they entered the final 70km, Gaviria and Renshaw upped the pace and when they had brought the gap down to 5.30, Ian Stannard started to work for Sky. Five kilometres later, Frederik Frison came to the fore for Lotto Soudal and the chase really got organized.

 

That had a big impact on the gap which was down to 4.05 with 60km to go and dropped to 2.45 seen kilometres later. Here the riders hit the second climb and again Farrar was in a class of his own in the KOM sprint as only Cronshaw tried to challenge him, with Bialoblocki rolling across the line in third.

 

The front group splits up

The trio decided not to wait for their former companions who were quickly distanced by a minute and McEvoy and Kruopis decided to sit up to wait for the peloton. Meanwhile, the impressive front group managed to increase their advantage. It was 3.15 after the sprint, 3.45 with 45km to go and 4.15 as they entered the final 35km where Downing had been distanced by 2.15.

 

As the gap was not really coming down, Cannondale-Garmin decided to contribute to the pace-setting with Sebastian Langeveld and it was now the Dutchman, Gaviria, Stannard and Frison trading pulls on the front. Nonetheless, the gap was still 3.50 as the riders entered the final 30km.

 

The gap comes down

Downing was brought back with 26km to go where Gaviria had blown up. Instead, Alan Marangoni started to work for Cannondale-Garmin.

 

The American team took complete control as they hit the final climb and here the fatigue really started to set in for the front trio. When Farrar led Bialoblocki and Cronshaw over the top with 24km to go, their advantage had been reduced to 2.30.

 

In the peloton, it was Ruben Zepuntke and Marangoni who did the damage on the ascent before Thomas Stewart (Madison) and Ian Bibby (NFTO) sprinted for the remaining points on offer. They crested the summit 2.05 behind the three leaders and in the end that turned out not to be enough as Viviani sprinted to the win.

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