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Tour of Britain 2018: Greipel takes easy sprint finish while Bevin extends lead

Joe Robinson
5 Sep 2018

The German sprinter took stage victory number 2 as savvy Bevin grabs bonus seconds on the line

Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took a comfortable sprint victory on Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain, beating Sacha Modolo (EF-Drapac) and race leader Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing) to the line.

The German sprinter was well positioned in the final corner, rounding Modolo and Bevin in the final few hundred metres, eventually winning by over a bike length. This is Greipel's second stage win of the week after victory on the opening day.

The stage was much more relaxed than yesterday's frantic race around Bristol. A break of five was allowed up front for most of the day, with the final duo of Hayden McCormick (One Pro Cycling) and Paul Ourseling (Direct Energie) being caught in the final 4km.

As for the General Classification, Bevin's third-place helped extend his lead over Cameron Mayer (Mitchelton-Scott) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) ahead of tomorrow's team time trial to Whinlatter Pass.

Tomorrow's short blast up the Whinlatter climb should be a decisive day for those longing to win the race overall.

How it happened

Have we all calmed down after yesterday's stage? It was fast and furious, wasn't it? 

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) took the win eventually but that wasn't through the want of almost everybody trying to attack constantly throughout the 125km round of Bristol. That win moved him to second overall while the race lead was handed from Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) to Paddy Bevin (BMC Racing).

Stage 4 looked a slightly more formulaic day, 183km from Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa. There were your usual bumps along the way, including three classified climbs, but it seemed as if the strongest sprinters could contest the finish.

Unlike yesterday, the peloton was sensible, letting the first five riders who attacked to establish the lead and therefore the day's breakaway. Those five were Alex Paton (Canyon-Eisberg), Matt Holmes (Madison-Genesis), Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data), Paul Ourselin (Direct Energie) and Tom Moses (JLT-Condor).

Sensibly, the break was allowed to build a proper lead of around two minutes, with the only real notable action being that Holmes had taken the two intermediate sprints points within the first 60km. Dlamini was also active, snagging KOM points, a classification he led earlier in the race.

The gap hovered around the two-minute mark for a bit longer before beginning to slowly drop with around 60km to go, with the likes of Iljo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors) and Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal) chipping away the seconds.

The bunch were much more relaxed than yesterday, so much so that second on GC Cameron Meyer seemed happy to sit at the back of the pack. 

Dlamini looked hellishly strong on the slopes. Routinely, he would ride the climbs on the opposite side of the road, eye-balling his fellow break companions in an unfair Mexican stand-off. He allowed Holmes to take the climbing points on Edge Hill, rolling over second himself.

All was quiet on the peloton front with 30km left to ride as the gap dropped closer to just 60 seconds thanks to the work of a few. Holmes snatched the third and final intermediate sprint as the race entered the final 20km. 

Like clockwork, EF-Drapac, Lotto Soudal and Quick-Step Floors had reduced the gap to 30 seconds, with just three of the break remaining, with 10km left, in touching distance for the sprinters to strike. The last two break riders McCormick and Ourselin were then eventually caught as the race entered the final 3km. 

Leading into the final, Team Sky set an unrelenting pace in order to keep Wout Poels safe which gave an armchair ride to the top sprinters into the finish. Eventually, Jungels took over with BMC Racing leading the sprinters to the line.

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