The opening stage of the Aviva 2015 Tour of Britain saw veteran rider Kristian House feature in a breakaway quartet.
An Post-Chain Reaction’s Conor Dunne, Madison Genesis’ Tom Stewart, JLT Condor’s Kristian House and One Pro Cycling’s Pete Williams comprised the almost perfect break, riding strongly as a quartet for the best part of 170-kilometres from Anglesey, over the Menai Bridge and through Snowdonia and the six counties of North Wales, at one stage running up a nine-minute lead.
With room to breathe, they fought it out for the two jerseys that were on offer. House jumped clear on the first climb of the day, the category one Llanberis Pass, to take full points. He could only manage third on the next ascent.
On the approach to the final climb of the day, House made his attack on the slopes of Clwydian Mountain and his solo effort saw him crest the peak first to take maximum points in the King of the Mountains competition.
The four came back together on the descent, but as the finish drew closer Team Skyand Etixx Quick-Step team began to chase the breakaway down and a sprint was never in doubt. Etixx set things up perfectly for Cavendish who started his sprint with some conviction at about 200-metres out. Team Sky’s Viviani and German Tour de France stage winner Greipel were forced to hang on in the run-in. Despite thinking he had left it too late, Viviani edged past Cavendish to take victory by the slimmest of margins.
JLT Condor’s Graham Briggs rode well in the closing kilometres to place tenth in the tough and fast sprint. The result puts the Yorkshire-man as the team’s best placed rider overall.
“Graham was feeling really good going into the race. We had recced the finish into Wrexham and knew what to expect but he was competing against three strong World-Tour teams; Team Sky, Etixx Quick Step and Lotto Soudal and they all rode hard to make sure the race would be back together for a sprint. Graham placed himself well and I am pleased to see he was rewarded with a top ten finish.” explained John Herety.
“We worked well and although I couldn’t recall all of the climbs from our recce but I did remember the final one which is why I hit out when I did and took a long one,” says House who won the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey overall in 2012 is riding his tenth Aviva Tour of Britain.
“When the break went back up from a minute to 1-minute 24 with 10km to go for a minute we thought this might actually work – funnily enough we were going through a town called Hope at the time! In my head though it was always going to come back together for a sprint finish.”
Stage two is a lumpy 160km from Clitheroe to Colne crossing through the steep fell’s of Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland. Team Manager John Herety predicts a difficult day in the saddle, “Today will be a tough day. There will be lots of teams fighting to place riders in the breakaway rather than control the peloton. Our riders will all need to stay alert and react to opportunities. A second of hesitation, will be a second too long.”
Live TV coverage will begin at 1pm on ITV4 and British Eurosport with highlights at 8pm on ITV4
You can watch highlights of stage 1 on the ITV Player – click here
Tour of Britain 2015, stage one: Beaumaris, Anglesey to Wrexham, 177km
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky in 4-26-29
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx-QuickStep
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
4. Owain Doull (GBr) Team Wiggins
5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
6. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto-Soudal
7. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx-QuickStep
8. Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN-Qhubeka
9. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin
10. Graham Briggs (GBr) JLT Condor p/b Mavic