BMC Racing Team Animate Stage 1 in Britain, Gerts Secures Top Ten Finish3. September 2017, Kelso (GBR) — Road Team
The OVO Energy Tour of Britain got underway today with BMC Racing Team animating the second half of the race before a fast run into the line saw Floris Gerts secure a top ten finish in the bunch sprint.
The battle to form the day’s breakaway began as soon as the flag dropped in Edinburgh with riders flying off the front of the peloton as they headed out of the city center and into the British countryside.
After 16km of almost non-stop action, eight riders went clear with the peloton eventually sitting up and giving them the chance to build up an advantage which quickly reached the three-minute mark.
However, with teams eyeing a potential bunch sprint at the finish in Kelso, the peloton was keen to keep control of the action, and soon, with the first of three categorized climbs covered, the gap was jumping around 2’30”.
Approaching the final 78km circuit, which included the two remaining climbs, the sprinters’ teams began to pick up the pace at the front of the main bunch, and as the leaders heard the bell ring going over the finish line, their advantage had been pulled to within two minutes.
On the exposed roads with 60km to go, BMC Racing Team moved up to the front of the peloton, and with Stefan Küng driving the pace through a tricky crosswind second, the bunch split in half and the gap came down to inside one minute.
Up ahead, the breakaway began to fragment with two riders forging on ahead as the rest were swept up by the regrouped peloton as the gap extended back out to over 1’30”, 40km from the line.
The final chase began just 10km later, with the leading duo's advantage brought to within 30 seconds before eventually, the race was brought back together on the slopes of the final climb, which peaked with around 20km to go.
Ben Hermans was keen to test his legs and quickly launched an attack off the front of the bunch, but it was pulled back as more riders, including Küng and Silvan Dillier, tried their luck in an attempt to go clear on the run into the line.
But, despite their efforts, the call of the bunch sprint was too strong, and soon the peloton was heading under the flamme rouge at full speed, and the stage was set for a fast and furious finale on the cobbled finishing straight.
In the end, it was Caleb Ewan (ORICA-Scott) who took the win, and the first leader’s jersey of the race, in a photo finish. Meanwhile, Gerts was well-position inside the final kilometer and was able to hold his own when the sprint was launched with 300m to go before crossing the line tenth.
The rest of BMC Racing Team’s six-rider lineup crossed the line safely heading into stage 2 tomorrow.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"I felt pretty good today. I had a big block of racing with Dylan Teuns before the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, and I am really happy that I could recover well and come here feeling stronger and make a step forward. I tried to be up there in the sprint, and a top ten finish is not bad especially with the field that is here. Over the rest of the race, I can't imagine that the sprinters' teams will be able to keep the race together all week, so I will be on the lookout for breakaway opportunities as well. As a team, I think we can try to race aggressively and go with the moves, and this will be the best option for us as we have really strong riders here."
"I was feeling good, but of course, I can feel that I have lost some of that racing rhythm. In the end, I was feeling fresh, and I didn't have to do much work in the peloton early on, so I accelerated on the final climb, but I started a little too far back. I moved up quite fast and came to the front and saw all of our guys there. I wanted to speed up to try and have fewer riders in the bunch and keep our guys relaxed behind going into the finish. Maybe because of this, some of the sprinters were dropped, and for me, it was also a chance to test my legs on my first day back."
Sports Director, Valerio Piva:
“We knew there was a strong crosswind and we planned in our morning meeting to try something, and it worked. We were able to split the group in two, but there wasn’t a lot of collaboration, and everything came back together again. On the last climb, we saw an attack from Ben Hermans as well as moves from Stefan Küng and Silvan Dillier, and we saw that they are strong and motivated to do something. Of course, we don’t have a sprinter at the level of some of the other teams but Floris Gerts was able to try something, and he secured a top ten finish. I think we can be happy with how stage 1 went for us and we will look ahead to see what we can do over the rest of the week.”
OVO Energy Tour of Britain
Stage 1: Edinburgh > Kelso, 190.1km
Top 3: 1. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-Scott) 2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) 3. Elia Viviani (Team Sky)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 10. Floris Gerts 28. Stefan Küng 39. Silvan Dillier