Petr Vakoc wins Tour of Britain second stage, takes overall lead

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Vakor celebrates his stage victory.

Czech rider Petr Vakoc of the Quick-Step team fought off the pursuing peloton to win Monday's second stage and take the overall lead of the Tour of Britain.

Helped by a final climb one kilometre from the line, Vakoc crossed alone after the 159.3km ride from Clitheroe to Colne in northern England.

The 23-year-old finished ahead of Spaniard Juan Jose Lobato of Movistar and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen of the Qhubeka team.

– Vuelta: Aru retains slender lead in Spain
– Britain: Viviani squeezes past Cavendish

– Vuelta: Marchi marches to stage victory

More to follow…

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Elia Viviani squeezes pasts Mark Cavendish in Tour of Britain

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Fine finish: Elia Viviani.

Mark Cavendish was denied victory in the first stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday after being pipped on the line by Team Sky’s Elia Viviani.

Cavendish looked in prime position to win the sprint at the end of the stage from Beaumaris to Wrexham as he led Lotto Soudal’s Andre Greipel round the final bend. 

– Vuelta: De Marchi wins 14th Vuelta stage

– Vuelta: Oliveira takes stage 13 glory
– Stage 12: Van Poppel races to stage glory

But in seeking to hold off Greipel, Cavendish left space for the Italian on his left side to take victory by the narrowest of margins.

The sprint trio were part of a main bunch who hauled in a four-rider breakaway with two kilometres remaining to set up the thrilling finish.

Viviani  said: “On the last turn I took Greipel’s wheel and when he did not start his sprint I thought he had left it too late. But when Cavendish went I saw a space on the left and I went for the line. I thought maybe I had won but I didn’t know until a few metres after.”

Today’s second stage of eight is a 159.3km ride through Lancashire from Clitheroe to Colne in northern England.

Meanwhile, Cavendish has criticised the Vuelta a Espana, claiming organisers are taking the enjoyment out of the event.

Cavendish has not competed in the third Grand Tour of the year since 2011 mainly due to the rise in mountain finishes. 

“The Vuelta has just become stupid now; 11 mountain-top finishes this year,” he said. “One thing for the viewers: sprinters aren’t bad bike riders. You don’t have to go quick uphill to make it a good race, do you know what I mean?

“No-one wants to go to the Vuelta any more unless they crashed out of the Tour de France.”

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Joaquim Rodriguez wins Vuelta stage 15, Fabio Aru retains slender lead

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Joaquim Rodriguez was strongest on the 12.7km Vuelta climb.

Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez claimed the 15th stage of Spain’s Vuelta to move within one second of overall leader Fabio Aru on Sunday.

Rodriguez, 36, was strongest on the 12.7km category one climb to the finish of the 175.8km ride from Comillas to Sostres to win from Poland’s Rafal Majka and fellow-Spaniard Daniel Moreno.

Aru, who is bidding to go one better than his runners-up spot in this year’s Giro d’Italia, was fifth on the day, 15 seconds behind, to hold onto his lead by the slenderest of margins.

Majka’s second place was also enough to move him up to third overall, 1min 24sec behind. It was a tough day for Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, though, as he was dropped on the final climb and falls to fourth overall, one second behind Majka.

“It is a big confidence boost because we have been looking for the stage win and to be involved in the general classification as well is great,” Rodriguez told Television Espanola. “We are in a perfect position, just one second off Aru.

– Vuelta: De Marchi wins 14th Vuelta stage
– Vuelta: Oliveira takes stage 13 glory
– Stage 12: Van Poppel races to stage glory

A nine-man breakaway had led the stage for most of the day, but the peloton never allowed them a lead of more than four minutes to ensure there would be no repeat of Saturday’s breakaway victory for Alessandro De Marchi.

Nairo Quintana was the first of the general classification favourites to attempt an attack, but the 2014 Giro d’Italia champion was kept in check by Aru’s Astana team.

Rodriguez made his break for the line with a kilometre to go and neither Quintana or Aru could respond to allow the Katusha rider to add a first Vuelta stage victory for two years to his two wins at the Tour de France in July.

Quintana remains three minutes back in ninth overall, 35 seconds behind his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde.

Dumoulin, who is one of the big favourites for Wednesday’s 38.7km time trial in Burgos, recovered well from being dropped by the peloton to limit the damage as he finished 51 seconds back in 12th. 

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