Team Sky’s Elia Viviani sprinted to his second win of the Aviva Tour of Britain, heading to victory at Kelso’s Floors Castle as Juan Jose Lobato moved into the race leader’s Aviva Yellow Jersey.
The Movistar Team rider took second on the road behind Viviani, and moved into the race lead after overnight leader Petr Vakoc crashed with just over three kilometres to go, losing ten minutes.
Having won Stage One in Wrexham on Sunday with no room for celebration, at Kelso the Italian had time to celebrate in style his victory outside the home of the Duke of Roxburghe.
Viviani kept his cool in a complicated finish after the peloton had caught a dangerous three man break consisting of Tyler Farrar, Marcin Bialoblocki and Matt Cronshaw with about five kilometres remaining.
As the peloton headed towards the twisty, fast finish into the grounds of Floors Castle, Lotto Soudal seemed to be dictating proceedings at the head of the bunch with Andre Greipel providing a lead out for Jens Debusschere.
Viviani, who had taken station just behind the Lotto Soudal train, was best positioned to take advantage. He accelerated smoothly and won comfortably, with his arms aloft, from Lobato with Matteo Trentin in third place.
Lobato’s lead at the top of the standings is ten seconds over MTN Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, with Floris Gerts of the BMC Racing Team another two seconds back. Team Sky’s Wout Poels lies fourth, while last year’s winner Dylan Van Baarle is fifth, just 13 seconds off the race lead.
“When the break at the end went out from 2-minutes 30 to 4-minutes 20 I did wonder if we would pull it back for a sprint finish,” admitted Elia Viviani afterwards. “The problem was that we needed to do the last climb very quickly and if we did that I was not sure if I would be able to stay in the first group of not.
“We decided to try and when your teammates work so hard – Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Andy Fenn – in the front you try your very best. Then at the end I saw that Mark Cavendish was not in the group after the crash and Andre Greipel was working for a teammate so thought perhaps it is a good sprint for me, it was a stage I can win.
“Andy Fenn positioned me perfectly and then I had to wait a little bit. After nearly 220km it is not the same as 170km, you don’t have the same legs. It was a very good test for the World and the climb at full gas with 20km to go was also very good.”
The win in the grounds of Floors Castle is Viviani’s second Aviva Tour of Britain victory at a Scottish castle, having also triumphed at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway in 2013.
In addition to becoming the third race leader in three days, Lobato also keeps the Chain Reactions Cycles Points Jersey.
“My main objective is still stage wins, if I keep the yellow jersey that will be a bonus. Our plan has been to race each stage day by day until the hilltop finish on Thursday and then we will have a look at how the GC is. The Tour of Britain is not an easy race to defend the jersey but we will have a better idea of the race by the end of Thursday stage.
Lobato praised Britain’s Alex Dowsett, who is based in Essex, for the work on his behalf today ensuring he was in a good position to contest the finish but isn’t sure that local knowledge was the factor: “I’m not sure there is that much local advantage to be had with Alex Dowsett – he is from the south of the England, not the North, he doesn’t know these roads!”
Elsewhere there was another promising ride from young Welsh rider Owain Duoll, this time finishing sixth, which also takes him to sixth on the Aviva General Classification. That not only makes him the Premier Inn Best British Rider at present but with Lobato wearing the Aviva Yellow Jersey he also inherits the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey to wear on Stage 4 from Edinburgh to Blyth.
Like most of the riders in Team WIGGINS Doull’s main focus is the Team Pursuit on the track at Rio 2016 but he has always shown real class on the road and will be one of the riders to watch in the Under-23 road events in Richmond, Virginia, later this month where he will be contesting both the Road Race and the Time Trial at the World Championship.
“I didn’t know quite what to expect coming into the race to be honest,” says Doull. “We had done quite a big block of training at altitude in Livigno so I was carrying quite a bit of fatigue and I thought I might be lacking a bit of top end speed.
“It’s been a bit surreal having Sir Bradley pulling on the front for me. It adds a bit of pressure but good pressure I guess. I’ve also been sharing a room with him so I’ve been thrown in at the deep end a bit. It’s a good laugh to be fair. Before this year I didn’t really know Brad so you have to pinch yourself sometimes because he was my hero growing up.
“We exist as team with the Rio team pursuit as our big aim but we do like to get stuck in and its nice in such a high profile race to show what we are all about.”
In the YodelDirect Sprint competition Pete Williams leads Pim Ligthart an Aidis Kruopis by one point with the latter enjoying a profitable day having got into the early break, while Tom Stewart also retained his lead in the SKODA King of the Mountain competition. MTN Qhubeka’s Tyler Farrar claimed the Stage Three Rouleur Combativity Award.
Stage Four sees the Aviva Tour of Britain visit Edinburgh for the first time in the history of the modern Tour, starting from Holyrood Park at 10am before heading through East Lothian and Berwickshire for the finish at Blyth in Northumberland.