At the beginning of September for the last few years, I have set aside some time to go to stages of the Tour Of Britain cycle race. This year was no different.
This year’s tour began in Scotland again, though this time starting in Edinburgh, before heading south to Kelso. Over the week, the race would head south through England before heading west across the Cotswolds & into Cardiff, Wales for the finale.
There was more emphasis this year on flat stages aimed at the sprinters with a 10 mile time trial on Thursday to shake up the general classification.
The field of riders was arguably the strongest this year with sprinters warming their legs up for the world championships in a couple of weeks. Riders such as Geraint Thomas & Mark Cavendish were also making their racing returns in the race after accidents during Le Tour De France.
This year, I managed to attend 3 stages. The start in Edinburgh, the individual time trial in Clacton-On-Sea & the finish in Cardiff. Below is a selection of my images from those stages.
Excitement was high in Edinburgh ahead of stage 1 of the OVO Energy Tour Of Britain, with riders signing on in the shadow of St Giles Cathedral before making final preparations/interviews before the race. Taylor Phinney of Cannondale Drapac looked cool before stage 1 with a full face of facial hair this time around. (Remember that moustache last year?) He came unstuck though after crossing a level crossing while the lights were flashing, earning a disqualification under UCI rules.
As is the case during the Tour Of Britain each year, there was a Great Britain team, fielding promising young riders hoping to put their mark on the race.
Making those last minute checks before the start, checking the computers are switched on and ready to record those all important stats during the stage.
Edinburgh was the perfect setting to host the Grand Depart of the 2017 Tour Of Britain, with the cyclists setting off from the Royal Mile before completing a circuit of the city centre. They then headed east out of the city before riding south towards Kelso, the stage 1 finish.
The next stage I attended in the Tour was stage 5, the individual time trial in Clacton On Sea in Essex. Alexander Kristoff is pictured here warming up with his Katusha team before the time trial begins. Due to his consistent high places in stages 1-4, Kristoff was one of the last starters in the time trial.
Polish National time trial champion Michal Kwiatkowski of team sky refined his technique ahead of the 10 mile tt. He finished in the top 5 during the event, lifting him up in the GC & also giving him valuable time trial time before the world championships in a couple of weeks.
The final rider to begin was Elia Viviani of Team Sky, wearing the green skin suit of race leader. He started level in GC on time with Caleb Ewan of Orica Scott though due to better results in stages 1-4, he wore green & began 2 minutes later. Ewan time trialed using a road setup & was passed by Viviani, who made up the two minutes he started behind. Though even Viviani’s efforts weren’t enough to stop the next man from taking stage victory & the lead in the GC.
Though not on most peoples lists to win the time trial, 2011 Tour Of Britain winner Lars Boom of LottoNL Jumbo arrived in top form. He secured victory in stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour last month against the likes of Peter Sagan & Tom Dumoulin so was strong heading to Britain. Another stage 5 victory here too, taking the overall lead of the Tour & the green jersey. That said, his team put in a strong time trial performance with 3 riders in the top 10.
Lars Boom arrived at stage 8 still leader of the race having successfully defended in the previous couple of stages & the final test was the road to Cardiff in typically wet British weather. The nearest credible threat was Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Dimension Data, who had proved he was in top sprinting form, meaning bonus seconds on intermediate sprints & on the line were even more important. Heading into Cardiff, the peloton split into two large groups, with a two man breakaway ahead, though the race favourites were in the main lead group.
After forming a solo breakaway with 3km to go, Boasson Hagen managed to hold on until the line & secure a well deserved stage victory & more importantly a 10 second time bonus to add to his GC hopes.
Eddy the Boss was clearly a happy man after the stage, but would the result of stage 2, & the loss of bonus seconds there after his demotion take away his hopes of a 3rd Tour Of Britain victory?
Geraint Thomas of Team Sky made a successful return from injury at the Tour Of Britain, securing the best British Rider title in front of his home crowd in Cardiff.
As Mark McNally of Wanty Groupe Gobert collected his trophy for sprints, some of it decided to fall apart as pictured!
A surprise guest in the form of Sir Bradley Wiggins took to the podium, representing Skoda to present the King of the Mountains jersey to Lukasz Owsian of CCC Sprandi Polkowice.
In the end, it was Lars Boom who held on to take his 2nd Tour of Britain victory from Edvald Boasson Hagen & Stefan Kung.
With two wins apiece now, will Boom & Boasson Hagen be back next year to duke it out for a third overall victory? Time will tell.