The 2013 Tour of Britain wouldn’t usually attract much attention, coming as it does right after the Vuelta a España and right before the World Championships.
This year however it is notable because it is a chance for 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins to finally get a good result in 2013. Wiggins dominated cycling in 2012 but this year has had issues with illness, injury, and simply not being on form for whatever reason.
Don’t look for Wiggins to win overall—the race is too flat for a pure climber to take over. But Wiggins will at least get a chance to ride hard before the worlds.
The eight-stage race gbringsd riders all throughout the United Kingdom. Scotland hosted Stage One, 210 km from Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle. The route included thee categorized climbs, but none of them were very long or steep.
The race started in hard, cold rain, but luckily for the riders the sun came out through the middle of the stage, giving the peloton a chance to strip of off raincoats and leg-warmers to get ready for the final sprint.
A group of five riders got a way in the first seven kilometers of the 210-km course, but got caught on the slopes of the final climb, a three-percent Cat Three.
Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) attacked just before the break got caught, catching and passing the breakaway, which was quickly swallowed up.
Delaplace lasted until 14 km from the finish before the sprinters’ teams rode him down. Alex Dowsett (Movistar) tried an attack shortly after, but didn’t last.
The final ten kilometers were a battle between the big sprinters’ teams to control the peloton. Sky and Omega Pharma-Quickstep had been riding up front all day. Cannondale joined them with six km to go. Garmin Sharp took over for a few kilometers but ran out of firepower with two K left in the race.
Cannondale and Omega battled it out into the final kilometer; Omega was riding for The Manx Missile, mark Cavendish, while Cannondale wanted to set up sprinter Elia Viviani.
Omega lost the front in the final kilometer and South Africa’s Qhubeka squad, leading Gerard Ciolek, moved up to challenge Cannondale.
There was a bit of nudging and jostling just behind the leaders as Mark Cavendish and others got boxed in. A crash tangled up several riders behind the leaders, but didn’t affect the outcome.
The last kilometer of the course was slightly uphill until the 200-meter mark, so a good leadout and smart timing were essential.
Coming up the final slope, a Qhubeka rider led Pettachi (probably wondering what happened to Cavendish,) Viviani, and Ciolek.
Ciolek started sprinting far too early, passing the line of riders on the right and taking a lead he couldn’t hold. Viviani jumped on Ciolek’s wheel, using the Qhubeka raider as a leadout, while Petacchi got squeezed aside.
Viviani forced his way by on the left, with Petacchi following. Ciolek held on for third by a few millimeters ad Bardiani rider Marco Coledan made a huge late surge.
Stage Two will be in Cumbria, the Lake District, 187 km from Carlisle to Kendal. The route includes three climbs, two Cat 2s and a Cat 1 and another uphill finish.