A massively overdue report on the Tour of Britain
Report’s maybe not the word – although I did go and stand on Gun Hill for a bit, a hundred yards or so away from where Mark Cavendish rode into a parked car and in so doing finished his season. I must say, uphill and into a headwind, the Manxman did well to injure himself.
Results-wise, Edvald Boasson-Hagen won a race that somewhat reverted to type after becoming increasingly difficult over the last few years. The Tour of Britain has often been decided by the bonus seconds handed out on the line, but with more and more climbing, sprint finishes have been seeming less relevant in recent years.
However, while Boasson-Hagen undeniably climbed well to finish second to Wout Poels on the race’s sole summit finish atop Hartside Fell on stage five, he earned the race lead thanks to bonus seconds secured via a couple of third place finishes on previous days.
Stage six was the other tough one and in fact it was roughly where I was standing where the race split. Team Sky, riding for Poels, forced the pace on the climb and even though it was ludicrously early in the day, the peloton fractured and never healed. About 30 riders survived in the front group and everyone else suddenly found themselves with 100 hilly miles to ride but with no part to play in the race.
A few kilometres from the finish, Boasson-Hagen attacked and chased down Matteo Trentin, who was last man standing from a small group that had gone on ahead. The pair stuck together to the finish allowing the Norwegian to gain a few more seconds and another time bonus. This was all he needed. The next two stages were just sprints and whatever Wout Poels is, he’s not a sprinter. He could in fact be a contender for most skeletal in a sport which has more than its fair share of boniness.
So it was a well-balanced race in that a really successful sprinter could have clawed back time lost on the summit finish, meaning everyone was in with a chance. As someone who both sprints and climbs reasonably well, Boasson-Hagen was therefore a worthy winner.
However, I must admit to being slightly disappointed with certain aspects. The route had looked more spectacular on paper, but the Clitheroe stage in particular was a big disappointment, ending in a sprint, while the Stoke to Nottingham stage seemed to deliberately avoid some of the short nasty climbs which make Britain what it is.
It’s still better than the Tour of Dubai though, so that’s something. In your face, Dubai.