Tour of Britain: Rapha Condor Sharp make the selection

After a day of enforced rest for the riders on yesterday’s stage of the Tour, stage three provided the race with some action when team Sky set the race alight across the Peak district.

The British teams perfectly laid plans were thwarted on the day when Lars Boom and Michael Matthews outmanoeuvred the six Sky riders at the finish and delivered an impressive Rabobank 1-2.

Rapha Condor Sharps’ Jon Tiernan-Locke crossed the line hot on the heels of the winners in an impressive 7th place. Also present in the 27-man group that fought out the finish was Dan Craven; making it two Rapha Condor Sharp riders in the selection.

After an active first half an hour where several groups had tried to forge clear of the bunch, including notably a strong seven man move containing Kristian House, three riders eventually went clear before the first sprint of the day.

Andy Fenn, Boy Van Poppel and (once again) Russell Hampton of Sigma Sport built up a maximum three-minute advantage over a peloton that fell in behind a steady but organised chase from Mark Cavendish’s team HTC. At this stage a repeat of the action from stage one had looked likely, however team Sky clearly had this stage marked in their playbook to make the difference and force a selection.

As Sky applied the pressure across the exposed Peak district, the bunch began to split and at the approach to Gun Hill, it was Rapha Condor Sharp’s Jonathon Tiernan-Locke who made an impressive counter attack from the bunch across to the leaders

“We could see the break just in front of us, and as the pressure was really on in the bunch I knew that it was going to really break up. I attacked hard there, because we knew the selection would really be made there. I took the points and waited for the group to get to me. When they got there it was driving hard, I was feeling good and tried my best at the finish, but it was a really hard fight to get behind the Sky leadout, and didn’t quite get the jump I wanted.”

By the finish the group had pulled out nearly three minutes on a splintered peloton, and after a late move by Alex Dowsett of team Sky was reeled-in in the final few kilometres the stage was set for a group sprint.

Dan Craven, who also made the decisive break on this stage last year said “It was hard when Dowsett was away but it seemed to work out well for the group, as HTC rode until they blew and put the group close enough to Dowsett for him to be caught, but not close enough for Sky to break the group up with a lot of attacks”.

“I attacked with 1.5km to go but by then a sprint was pretty much set and I was reeled in. It’s a really hard finish here at Stoke, not in any way a straight forward sprint and with JT the faster finisher out of the two of us, it was down to me to try a longer move”.

By virtue of the win Boom now assumes the overall lead in the race, and both Jon Tiernan Locke and Dan Craven will have moved themselves into positions to contend high overall finishes. Team manager John Herety was content with having two riders amongst what could be a very important selection and immediately after the stage commented “We knew Sky were going to try something today, it is their race to win really, and they certainly did the damage in the exposed section of the race. They managed to get all six of their guys in that first group which of course put the onus on them to make the race”.

Busy day for Kristian House, in an early break and also in the chase group that almost made it across to the front selection.

“We had two guys in there which is really pleasing for us at this level of competition, and considering that the move simply went at the hardest part of the race. There will inevitably be another move that goes on the next stages with Sky guys in it now, and it is down to us to get our guys into the next real G.C. move. JT rode really well today, he was one of the strongest guys on the climbs and he wasn’t intimidated at the finish. We’ll let the dust settle and look at how the standings are tonight before we get into the specifics”.

The team now travel to Telford to ready themselves for tomorrows demanding stage across Wales, where further changes could yet happen at the head of the classification.