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Cees Bol of Team DSM won stage 2 of the Tour of Britain by a miniscule margin amid a chaotic sprint into Duns, narrowly beating Jake Stewart into second place, with Corbin Strong taking third place.
Jake Stewart opened the sprint in the final 400m, attacking from a final kilometre tightly controlled by Team DSM, but Stewart was followed and subsequently caught by Bol who won the final with a marginally stronger bike throw for the line.
It followed an exciting run-in to the line in Scotland. After the day’s early breakaway of six – containing brothers Charlie and Harry Tanfield (Ribble Weldtite) – Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) made an early attack with 13km remaining.
He stretched out a notable lead of 25 seconds but was caught by a chase led by Richie Porte which was followed by a flurry of counter-attacks.
It gave way to an animated lead-out effort from the major teams, with DSM moving Bol to the front within the final kilometre, ahead of Stewart’s early sprint effort. The finish margin was so tight the riders did not know who had won.
“I haven’t seen the footage yet, but I think on the line Jake and me didn’t know it,” Bol said after the stage. “It was all-out, and I was actually cramping a bit. I had almost nothing left so I thought I better do the bike throw early, then do another pedal stroke and you can see how close it is. It’s only just, but it’s enough.
“We approached it quite open, focussed on riding together and getting over the hills. If there would be attacks, then the guys would be able to follow,” Bol continued. “I was suffering really hard and getting dropped, but on the final climb in the headwind it was a bit easier to hang on. The boys did a really strong ride to close the gap and bring me in a perfect position in the last kilometre.
“There were strong guys on the attack and if we didn’t ride immediately, they have a good chance of making it to the finish. Also with the speed being so high and with the corner with just over 1km to go, you save a lot of energy when you go through in the first five. Because of my teammates I managed to do that, so thanks to them.”
How it unfolded
The second stage of the Tour of Britain would see the peloton race around the Scottish Border region, taking in three late climbs on the way to the finish in the town of Duns. Following a flat and rolling opening 140km of the 175km stage, three third-category climbs would be packed into the closing kilometres of the day, providing potential launchpads for any attackers.
The day’s breakaway went away early on the stage, with Ribble Weldtite brothers Harry and Charlie Tanfield getting the move. Matthew Teggart (Wiv SunGod), Adam Lewis (Saint Piran), Ukko Peltonen (Global 6), and Travis Stedman (Qhubeka) completed the move, which was made up of Continental team riders.
After a day in the breakaway on stage 1, Teggart was out front again to target the intermediate sprint points having taken the maximum of nine on Sunday. The white jersey wearer went for it again at the first sprint of stage 2, 42.5km into the stage.
The group, who realistically had little chance of staying away for the stage win, nonetheless built up a gap of almost five minutes during their time out front, their advantage peaking between the second and third sprints of the day, both of which Teggart won to bring his total points to 18.
KOM leader Bassett, who had picked up 14 points to Teggart’s eight on the opening day, was once again in the battle for points as the break reached the late hills just ahead of the peloton. It was Teggart who pipped Basset to the top of Wanside Rigg, 24km from the line, grabbing four points to take him to 12 with Bassett still leading the classification with 17.
The group wouldn’t last to the next climb of Mainslaughter Law, though, with the Ineos-led peloton bringing them back shortly after the first of the trio of hills. The retiring Richie Porte took to the front of the peloton to make the pace there, though the calm was quickly disrupted by Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), who jumped away solo with 16km to go.
With no immediate reaction behind, the 29-year-old swiftly built up a 25-second gap over the day’s final climb of Hardens Hill, pushing on well into the final 10km as Ineos continued to work.
Saint Piran tried a two-man counter at 8km to go, with Jack Rootkin-Gray and Alexandar Richardson going on the attack briefly before being brought back. Two kilometres later it was Gabburo’s turn to be reabsorbed as Porte led the peloton back up to him.
Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), who had suffered a puncture just outside the closing 10km, recovered to go on the attack into the final 5km, his move sparking several more moves, including one from Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech) with Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) leading the chase.
Team DSM had other ideas, though, bringing the moves back as the peloton raced into the last 3km with the team looking to deliver a win for their sprinter Cees Bol. The squad massed on the front, totally in control of the group as they passed under the flamme rouge as Great Britain and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise also sent men to interfere at the front.
The final dash to the line saw Jake Stewart (Great Britain) launch first after a strong late lead-out from his teammates. The 22-year-old went head-to-head with Bol, the pair crossing the line in a dead heat with the winner not immediately apparent and neither celebrating.
A few minutes after the finish, analysis of the photo finish showed that Bol had just about edged to victory, the Dutchman taking his first win of 2022 and the sixth of his career.
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