The Tour of Britain kicked off on Sunday, and we have already been treated to some great racing from some of the world’s best riders.
The home of The Beatles, the mighty Everton F.C. and some smaller team who play in red was the host for the opening stage as the riders took a magical mystery tour on a circuit race around Liverpool.
It proved to be a hard day’s ride for the peloton, especially Mark Cavendish who again suffered misery on British roads. The ‘Manx Missile’ endured a problem with his cleats before crashing into a team car attempting to get back into the main group later in the race. Despite these setbacks Cav still managed a third placed finish, it won’t be long before he is back to winning ways.
Somewhat inevitably it all came together for the big German Marcel Kittel who took the stage win. No more Beatles puns now I promise. I should have known better…
Monday saw the riders set off from Knowsley Safari Park, elephants looking on, before heading down into Wales for a finish in Llandudno. Despite a number of attacks on the tricky descent into the Welsh town, notably from Michael Kwiatkowski, the race all came back together thanks to some impressive work from Sir Wiggo at the head of the peloton.
With Mark Cavendish nursing injuries from stage 1, it was his ‘right-hand lieutenant’ (as an itv commentator brilliantly called him) Mark Renshaw, who timed his sprint well to take the victory. All this left me pondering was who is Cav’s left-hand right-hand man? I’m assuming it’s Niki Terpstra.
On paper stage 3 looked to be the most exciting of this year’s tour with a summit finish at the top of the Tumble climb near Abergavenny. The ‘rumble on the Tumble’, as almost nobody was calling it, did not disappoint.
Despite a good attack on the final climb from Ireland’s very own Nicolas Roche, it was lesser known Italian climber Edoardo Zardini who struck decisively to take the stage win and the yellow jersey.
Wiggo had to rely on his teammate Perez to pace him up the climb to finish fifth. The stage probably provided more questions than answers for the 2012 winner of the Tour de France, who will know he cannot rely solely on the final day’s short time trial to take the time he needs to win overall.
Four days into the tour and we have our fourth leader. Michael Kwiatkowski (or ‘Scrabble’ to his mates) took an opportunistic win on the stage into Bristol, securing him the yellow jersey.
During a frantic final 3km, the Polish rider bridged the gap to the remains of the day’s breakaway before powering past them to seal Omega Pharma-Quickstep their second stage victory of the tour. Sir Wiggo finished in the main bunch, leaving him sixth overall in the standings