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In a dramatic finale, Bauer, Moinard and Rowsell held off Ewan and the fast-finishing peloton by metres and it was the Kiwi who sprinted to victory on stage 5 of the Tour Britain; Vermote retained the lead

Photo: Cannondale-Garming Pro Cycling

AMAEL MOINARD

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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EF EDUCATION - NIPPO

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JULIEN VERMOTE

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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08.09.2016 @ 18:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In 2014, Jack Bauer had one of the most heartbreaking experiences of recent years. The strong Kiwi was agonizingly close to a huge win at the Tour de France when he was caught just metres from the line and he was in tears when he watched Alexander Kristoff step onto the podium after having denied him the biggest success of his career.

 

Luckily, fortunes can change and the world is loaded with contrasts. Today Bauer found himself in the completely opposite situation on stage 5 of the Tour of Britain. The scenario was almost the same as it was two years ago in the Tour but this time it was Bauer who could celebrate while the fastmen were left frustrated.

 

Bauer had joined a five-rider group that escaped after a very fast start to the race and as only Lotto Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo worked to get a bunch sprint, the four survivors still had 45 seconds with 5km to go. However, the group made a big gamble when the game of cat and mouse started and so it came down to a thrilling finale.

 

Bauer stayed calm despite the fast-moving peloton arriving fast from behind before he launched his sprint just after the final turn. He easily beat Amael Moinard and Erick Rowsell in a very close finale where Caleb Ewan, the fastest rider from the bunch, flew past him just a few metres after the passage of the line.

 

After yesterday’s long, hilly stage, the riders faced a similar course on stage 5 which brought them over 194.5km from Aberdare to Bath. There were no major climbs but that didn’t mean that the roads were flat as there were several small ascents along the way, including three category 2 climbs. The final of those came with 61.6km to go and from there it was a lumpy run to the finish. In the final 10km, there was a small uncategorized climb before the riders descended to Bath and the flat finale which ended with a slightly uphill sprint.

 

Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) was the only non-starter when the peloton gathered under a sunny sky. Like in the first stages, it was a very fast beginning with numerous attacks and that made it difficult to escape. Jasper Bovenhuis (An Post) was active as were riders from An Post, ONE, LottoNL-Jumbo, NFTO, Madison and JLT. A group of five was briefly formed before BMC and Orica-BikeExchange laid the foundations for a six-rider break. 12 riders then got clear but BMC brought everything back together.

 

Bovenhuis was in the next 11-rider groip which got a 12-seconds advantage but they didn’t make it either. The next sextet was also caught while riders were getting dropped due to the intense pace. LottoNL-Jumbo then took control, making sure that no one had escaped after 25km of fast racig.

 

Bauer, Amael Moinard, Erick Rowsell and Jonathan McEvoy (NFTO) then managed to open a 12-second advantage before Javier Moreno (Movistar) took off in pursuit. While the peloton slowed down and allowed the gap to go out to more than a minute, the Spaniard was stuck 20 seconds behind before the front group eased up to wait for him.

 

Moreno made the junction and then the group worked well together to cover 46.3km during a fast first hour. However, they were not getting much leeway and were still just 1.20 ahead.

 

McEvoy beat Rowsell and Moreno in the first intermediate sprint before the group pushed the gap out to two minutes. After 58km of racing, they led by 3 minutes but then the peloton again upped the pace, reducing the gap to 2.35 at the 69km mark.

 

The front group managed to push the gap out to more than 3 minutes as they went up the first climb where McEvoy beat Rowsell, Bauer, Moinard and Moreno in the KOM sprint. KOM leader Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) was attentive to pick up the final point on offer.

 

The front group made use of the second climb to extend the advantage to 5.10 before McEvoy beat Rowsell, Bauer, Moinard and Moreno in the second KOM sprint and again Meurisse made sure to cross the line first from the peloton. Further back, the peloton briefly split but things came back together. Meanwhile, Graham Briggs (JLT) left the race

 

In the peloton, Sky and Dimension Data took control with Ian Stannard, Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl and those three riders worked together to slowly reduce the gap. It was 4.10 with 95km to go and had dropped to 3.45 when they hit the final 80km.

 

Parked cars created some chaos and a crash when the Sky pair of Danny Van Poppel and Wout Poels went down together with Jochem Hoekstra (Giant-Alpecin). However, they all managed to get back on their bikes and quickly rejoined the peloton.

 

With 65km to go, the gap had gone out to 4.20 and it was not coming down. Rowsell led McEevoy and Moinard across the line in the second intermediate sprint and then the group took on the final climb with an advantage of a massive 5.30. The work in the peloton was left to Shaw, Lindeman as Sky and Dimension Data had now disappeared from the front. McEvoy led Moinard, Moreno, Bauer and Rowell on the top and again the attentive Meurisse came to the fore to pick up the final KOM point 5.25 later.

 

While Shaw and Lindeman failed to bring the gap down, there was another small crash that involved Rick Zabel (BMC). However, the German sprinter was quickly back on his bike and rejoined the peloton.

 

With 50km to go, the gap was still 5 minutes and this prompted LottoNL-Jumbo to react. Paul Martens came to the fore to share the workload with Shaw and Lindeman. He significantly increased the pace as they went up a small climb and lots of riders were getting dropped.

 

As they hit the final 40km, the gap was still four minutes but Martens, Lindeman and Shaw slowly managed to tip the balance. During the next 15km, the trio took back more than a minute to reduce the gap to 2.50.

 

Robert Wagner (LottoNL-Jumbo) took over from Lindeman and Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal) came to the fore to lend the chasers a hand as they hit the final 25km. When McEvoy led Moinard and Moreno across the line in the final intermediate sprint with 20km to go, the peloton crossed the line 2 minutes later.

 

The peloton was panicking and as Lotto Soudal were riding for Jens Debusschere, it was no less of a figure than André Greipel who took over from Shaw. He traded pulls with Martens, Wagner and De Buyst as they hit the final 10km 1.00 behind the leaders.

 

Despite some massive turns from Greipel, the gap was only coming down slowly and it was still 45 seconds when the front group hit a small climb with 6km to go. Here the fight for the stage win started as Moinard attacked from the breakaway. The Frenchman got a small over his former companions while McEvoy was distanced.

 

While Bauer, Moreno and Rowsell made it back to Moinard, Etixx-QuickStep gathered their entire team on the front of the peloton where Tony Martin set the pace. Nonetheless, the front quartet hit the final 5km with an advantage of 45 seconds. Sky gave it one last desperate attempt to try to bring the break back when Ian Stannad came to the fore and as the game of cat and mouse started in the front group, there was suddenly some hope that the peloton would make it.

 

With 3km to go, Moinard took off and this time there was no immediate response. The Frenchman was soloing towards victory but as the chasers got organizers, he was caught with 1.5km to go. Meanwhile, Stannard and Poels chased desperately in the peloton, bringing McEvoy back in the process.

 

Moinard led the front group under the flamme rouge where the game of cat and mouse had again started. As LottoNL-Jumbo had launched their train in the peloton, everything was still possible in the nail-biting finale.

 

Bauer briefly tried to make a skin attack before Moreno launched a long sprint through the final turn. Bauer responded immediately and he easily came around the Spaniard to take the biggest win of his career. Moinard and Rowsell completed the podium while a fast-finishing Caleb Ewan managed to pass both Moreno but had to settle for fourth.

 

Julien Vermote finished safely in the peloton and so retained his 6-second advantage over Steve Cummings (Dimension Data). He now faces his biggest test in the race in tomorrow’s queen stage where the rides will cover 149.9km from Sidmouth to the top of the Haytor climb which is 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’s another category 3 climb to tackle during the lumpy ride towards the finish. Here the category 1 climb of Dunchidecock will provide the riders with a first chance to make a selection. The top comes with 20.3km to go and then a descent leads to the bottom of the final climb. It averages 6% over 5.4km and has its steepest section in the middle.

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