Bozic closes gap but Albasini keeps lead
SLOVENIAN Borut Bozic claimed the penultimate stage of the Tour of Britain after a fast and furious chase across Suffolk and north Essex yesterday.
Bozic, of the high-flying Vacansoleil team, sprinted clear in the final metres of the 95mile (152km) stage to claim the honours ahead of Sky’s Greg Henderson and Saxo Bank’s Australian rider Richie Porte.
It was tough on Briton Tom Murray (Sigma Sport-Specialized) and Belgian Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen).
The pair had broken away after an hour and worked tirelessly together to stay away for over 60miles (100km) but the speed of the peloton saw first Jacobs then Murray caught within the final miles in Colchester.
The pace had been rapid from the moment the flag dropped as the race rolled out of Bury St Edmunds; the first 30 miles was dispatched in an hour.
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As expected on this flat stage attacks were frequent from the outset. Star of Thursday’s long stage across Norfolk, Australian Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions), was one would-be escaper but despite a big effort he was unable to get away.
Eventually the frenetic early speed relaxed a little, and Jacobs and Murray grabbed their chance to slip the leash.
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They were never allowed to get too far away though, with a maximum gap of 3m 12s on a bunch being driven hard first by Garmin-Transitions, then Sky and HTC-Columbia.
The high pace took its toll early on, with three riders abandoning in the first hour while Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Dan Craven was forced to leave the race after a crash not far from Lavenham.
The two escapees pressed on through the rolling countryside, sharing the King of the Mountains and sprint points between them, but as the miles counted down the peloton began to reel them in.
Cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators in every town, village and hamlet the racers ramped up the effort, catching the escapers on the run into Colchester and setting up the final charge up the deceptive slope of East Hill and victory for Bozic.
His win trimmed a few seconds off the gap between him and yellow jersey holder Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia) but the Italian is still over a minute clear heading into tomorrow’s dash round London’s Docklands.
Barring anything extraordinary happening Albasini will take the tour title.
Sky’s Henderson tops the points standings, while Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) is wearing the King of the Mountains jersey and Michal Golas (Vacansoleil) leads the sprinters.
The final stage departs at 2pm tomorrow. Highlights of the stage will be on ITV4 at 7pm