In today’s episode, we review what was a truly fascinating stage 3 of the Tour of Britain with the help of Saint Piran team manager Steve Lampier, new race leader Ben Perry, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling sports director Colin Sturgess and Team DSM’s young gun Oscar Onley.
On paper at least, this stage was one for the sprinters. The stage route featured a lumpy start, including the first category Chapel Fell, which then gave way to slightly less fierce, rolling terrain on relatively wide roads. However, the stage was anything but formulaic, as we’ve often come to expect at the Tour of Britain.
In contrast to stages 1 and 2, there was a fierce battle to get into the day’s break. And when it did eventually form, it was a strong quartet that got away. The domestic team duo of Saint Piran’s Alex Richardson and WiV SunGod’s Ben Perry were joined by Belgian pairing of Kamiel Bonneu of Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise and Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauce WB).
With the break still young, some lively and very visible discussions ensued between the leading quartet, the four riders debating how they would work together for the remainder of the stage. More on this later from our audio diarists Steve Lampier and Ben Perry.
Perry and Paasschens mopped up most of the bonus seconds on offer at the intermediate sprints – important given their GC proximity – while Bonneu took maximum points atop each of the KOM climbs. None of the escapees picked up enough points, however, to trouble the incumbent competition leaders, meaning WiV SunGod’s Matt Teggart and Jake Scott retained their respective leads in the Sportsbreaks.com sprints and ŠKODA King of the Mountains competitions.
As torrential rain hit the race in the closing 50 kilometres, it became apparent that the leading four had a fighting chance of making it to the end. With 30 kilometres left the gap was three and half minutes, and despite the best efforts of the peloton – and the gap slowly dwindling – the advantage continued to stay with the break.
For much of the final kilometres, Richardson declined to cooperate with his fellow escapees – for reasons Steve Lampier explains in his dispatch – but even this didn’t overly hinder the break’s position.
In the closing stages, Richardson tried multiple attacks but all were quickly closed down. The break then slowed considerably, so much so it looked like they might be caught. Bonneu then put in a strong attack just a few hundred metres out which his rivals were too slow to react to.
It enabled Bonneu to surge to the biggest victory of his professional career, with a visibly disappointed Perry in second. Richardson rolled in third with Paasschens fourth. The speeding peloton arrived at the line just seconds later.
Initially, the commissaires awarded the race lead to overnight leader Corbin Strong (Israel – Premier Tech), with Perry in second on the same time. After reviewing the race footage, however, the jury decided that Perry finished seven seconds ahead of the peloton which, together with the time bonuses he earned on the road, means he is now the new race leader.
As far as we can work out, it’s the first time a domestic team has ever held the race lead of the modern-day Tour of Britain.
WiV SunGod will certainly have their work cut out defending Perry’s lead as stage 4 looks brutal. Running from Redcar to Duncombe Park, it’s a short stage at 149.5 kilometres. But it features some punishing climbs and the final 30 kilometres, in particular, are unforgiving, and include the climbs of Carlton Bank (2km long, 9.8% average gradient) and Newgate Bank (2km long, 6% average gradient).
Another exciting day’s racing awaits.
Show sponsored by HUNT Bike Wheels.