Race report

Mark Donovan on the attack over home roads at Tour of Britain

Tour of Britain

Travelling from the west to the east coast, the bunch were faced with a tough day in the hills of northern England, and a 198 kilometre long route from Carlisle to Gateshead. It was a fierce start to the stage with multiple attacks and after a hard-fought 30 kilometres local rider and Penrith born, Mark Donovan, made it into the group of nine. Initially getting a gap of one minute and 30 seconds, the rest of the breakaway wasn’t happy with Donovan being present in the group and he eventually returned to the bunch alongside Hollyman.

The remaining seven rider breakaway pushed on over the hills, extending their gap to almost four minutes. Entering the last 60 kilometres the team came to the fore, with Tim Naberman riding strongly on the front of the bunch alongside some other teams to slowly reel in the breakaway. Pulling off at 25 kilometres to go, Naberman and the rest of the chasers had cut the gap to just over one minute, and heading into the last 15 kilometres it was all back together.

On one of the final uncategorised climbs an infernal pace was set and several attacks were made at the front of the peloton with a group of ten riders going clear. Donovan, Nicholas Roche and Romain Combaud formed part of the reduced chasing bunch but over the rolling terrain the strong attacking group held on to fight for the win, with the Team DSM trio following home within the bunch, ten seconds in arrears. Tomorrow sees the race head into Scotland for the penultimate stage of the event.

“It was another hard day, on my home roads actually,” explained Donovan. “It was a nice day and experience. It was pretty active at the start with quite a lot of moves going and I ended up slipping into the breakaway. As I was relatively close on GC, Ineos didn’t want to let it go and the other guys in the break didn’t want me to be there. They started attacking me and we made the call pretty early to save energy and go back to the peloton and wait towards the final. In the end it was the right decision as there were other teams who were fighting for the finish. It came down to the last climb at 15 kilometres to go and unfortunately we didn’t quite have the legs to go with the front ten, but we finished around ten seconds behind in the chasing group. Still in top ten on GC which is nice with two days to go.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “It was a nice and challenging parcours today. Of course Mark was super motivated because we passed through his home town and local roads for him so that was nice. It was also a stage where several scenarios could have unfolded. We had to be smart and what the opportunities could be and how we would play it. We took care on the early breaks which were more selective this time with the WorldTour teams wanting to be in there, with Mark in there. As Mark was close on GC the rest of the break wasn’t so happy and they made it really hard for him and they attacked him, so his only option was to come back and conserve energy for later in the stage. The overall goal was to come over the main climb with all of our guys in the peloton so we could preserve ourselves for the final which we expected to be active and aggressive. Unfortunately, Ineos were happy to conserve their GC lead so we decided to invest with some other teams to try and catch the break, with Tim doing a great job alongside some other teams to do that. Nico, Romain and Mark did a super job but just weren’t able to follow the final selection so came in with the chasing group ten seconds behind. All in all it was a really tough day and the guys came through it in a good way, and we’re looking forward to the weekend where we’ll get stuck into the racing again.

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VAN AERT Wout Team Jumbo-Visma 4:35:56 20
2 HAYTER Ethan INEOS Grenadiers ,, 10
3 ALAPHILIPPE Julian Deceuninck - Quick Step ,, 5
27 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 0:10 -
28 ROCHE Nicolas Team DSM ,, -
29 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM ,, -
52 KANTER Max Team DSM 4:22 -
70 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 8:45 -
1005 EEKHOFF Nils Team DSM -04:35:56 -