André Greipel overcame a late puncture to sprint to victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Britain Saturday.
The 28-year-old HTC-Columbia rider punctured in the final 8km of the 132.6km ride between Rochdale and Blackpool, but after getting a wheel from teammate Marco Pinotti, the Giro d’Italia stage winner went on to secure his 19th victory of the season.
Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSG) finished second with Greg Henderson (Team Sky) third.
HTC-Columbia sports director Brian Holm admitted Greipel was lucky not to have punctured further on.
“The puncture made it all a bit more difficult, but we came through okay thanks to some great teamwork,” said Holm. “We pulled back a break, but then Andre punctured with eight kilometers to go. I got almost everybody to stop, and Marco (Pinotti) gave him his wheel.
“There’s a 90-degree turn on this stage just a little later where the road turns onto the beach and where the bunch always gets strung out. But we got him back in time, and we got our first win and the lead too.”
Sunday’s second stage sees the peloton go on a 160.5km circuit starting and finishing in Stoke-on-Trent.
- 1. André Greipel (Ger), HTC-Columbia, 3:16:48
- 2. Manuel Belletti (Ita), Colnago-CSF, s.t.
- 3. Greg Henderson (Nzl), Team Sky, s.t.
- 4. Alex Rasmussen (Den), Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
- 5. Martin Reimer (Ger), Cervélo TestTeam, s.t.
- 1. André Greipel (Ger), HTC-Columbia, at 0:3:16:36
- 2. Manuel Belletti (Ita), Colnago-CSF, at 0:06
- 3. Greg Henderson (Nzl), Team Sky, at 0:08
- 4. Russell Downing (Gbr), Team Sky, at 0:08
- 5. Richie Porte (Aus), Team Saxo Bank, at 0:09