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Matthias Brandle solos to win stage 5 in Britain

IAM Cycling's Brandle times his attack to perfection on Stoke Hill, riding alone to victory in Exeter

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Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) attacked out of a small breakaway group to win stage 5 of the Tour of Britain Thursday.

The Austrian got into a four-man breakaway early in the 177.3km stage from Exmouth to Exeter. The break stayed together across the first two categorized climbs.

But on the final climb, a category 2 ride up Stoke Hill, Brandle made his winning move.

“All victories are nice, but this one today is certainly one of the most important wins of my career,” said the Austrian winner. “My breakaway companions and I worked well together. When the peloton started to bring us back at around 40 kilometers from the finish, we put the turbo on and rode a bloc until the foot of the climb. When I jumped away on the last few percentages, I knew it was make or break. I am really thrilled to have been able to cross the line with my arms raised.”

The GC standings remained unchanged, with Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) leading, three seconds ahead of Edoardo Zardini (Bardini). BMC’s Dylan Teuns is still 14 seconds behind.

How it happened

An early break of four got away after the race started in Exmouth. They included: Andreas Stauff (MTN-Qhubeka), Brandle, Maarten Wynants (Belkin), and Shane Archbold (An Post).

The gap grew to three minutes as the day progressed.

The break had only 52 seconds of advantage at the hairpin turn leading into Stoke Hill. Garmin-Sharp was one of the few teams to actively pursue the escapees coming into the final climb.

Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) attacked from the field as the final category 2 climb began.

Ahead, Brandle attacked from the breakaway, sensing the danger.

The peloton brought back van Baarle. Then it was Tinkoff-Saxo, taking their chance with Christopher Juul-Jensen. The leader’s advantage had dropped to less than 30 seconds. Juul-Jensen, however, did not succeed in escaping.

As the climb eased, Brandle saw one kilometer to go, and only two pursuers remained from the early breakaway — Wynants and Archibold.

“We had to go full-gas in the end to beat the chasing peloton,” Wynants said. “There was one last hard climb, and Brandle attacked near the top. I went after him, but I couldn’t close the gap. It was a steep descent, and two sharp corners. I tried to chase him down, but there was not enough road.”

Brandle, the Austrian national time trial champion, was in his element, with his head down, pushing all the way to the line.

The rider from IAM Cycling took a few quick looks over his shoulder, but knew he had the win, soloing across the finish just ahead of Archibold in second and Wynants, who was third.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.