Germany’s Andre Greipel claimed the honours on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain in Newport on Sunday.
Greipel (Lotto Soudal) beat Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton Scott) and Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep-Floors) in a bunch sprint at the end of the 174.8-kilometres stage from Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and his Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, the four-time Tour de France winner competing at his national tour for a first time since 2009, both finished safely in the pack, on the same time as Greipel. Froome was 64th and Thomas 77th.
Cardiff’s Thomas, racing on home roads, has been enjoying his yellow jersey success but was determined to put on a show.
The 32-year-old attacked on the day’s final climb, but was joined by Julien Alaphilippe and another QuickStep-Floors rider, Bob Jungels.
Jungels forged on as his fellow escapes were reeled in and the Luxembourg rider was caught with 1km to go as the sprinters’ teams found their formation.
And it was Greipel, an 11-time Tour de France stage winner who won the opening stage of the Tour of Britain on his most recent appearance in 2016, who emerged victorious for a first win since May.
Greipel told ITV4: “I went with 200 to go. I’m happy I could finish it off. It was a long time that I didn’t win and now I’m happy I could win finally again.
“It’s always prestigious to win a stage here. That’s why we came here.”
Monday’s second stage is the 174.9km route in Devon from Cranbrook to Barnstaple. The race finishes in central London on Sunday, September 9.
Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde kept his composure on a tricky finish to claim victory on the eighth stage of the Tour of Spain on Saturday.
Frenchman Rudy Mollard, of the Groupama team, held on to the race leader’s red jersey.
Organisers had added spice to the finale of the 195.5 km race from Linares, the peloton forced to practically turn back on itself after negotiating a roundabout inside the final kilometre.
But the 38-year-old Valderde held his nerve to stay in sprint contention and proved strongest in a tight, uphill finish to pip three-time world champion Peter Sagan to the honours. It was his second stage win of this year’s race.
Sagan, of the Bora team, finished third with Dutchman Danny von Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) in third place.
The cycle season is upon us once more and to kick things off is the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge’s first build up ride taking place on Friday, September 7 at Al Qudra Cycle Path.
Registration for the event closes on Wednesday, September 5 and as the first event in the season, the 35km build up ride is the perfect platform for those new to the sport to be part of the cycling trend in Dubai, or for those that have been having a break from cycling during the hot summer to jump back on.
The popular cycle event consists of four build up rides which increase in distance each time to get cyclists prepared for the biggest challenge of the season – the 92km event on Friday, December 14.
Launched nine years ago, the event has continued to grow with over 2,000 cyclists from all over the world entering the 92km event and many cyclists taking part in the UCI Gran Fondo Category to try to qualify for the exciting UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.
The organisers of the event are also excited to announce the return of the Spinneys Dubai 92 Junior Rides; the timed 2.5km, 15km and 30km rides are designed for 6 to 15 year-olds held at the Dubai Autodrome on Thursday, 13 December.
This is a great opportunity for younger ones to be part of the largest amateur cycling challenge and support the legacy of cycling in the UAE.
To register or to find out more information on any of the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge events please visit www.cyclechallenge.ae or www.hopasports.com.