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Tour of Britain stage 5: Jordi Meeus wins bunch sprint into Mansfield

Large number of riders go wrong way inside final kilometer.

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Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 5 of the Tour of Britain in a bunch sprint, beating Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) into Mansfield.

The stage was marked by a four-man breakaway, which was reduced to two with 45km remaining. British rider Zeb Kyffin (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and the Spaniard Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) did what they could to stay clear but were finally caught by the bunch with 9.6km to go.

That set things up for a big bunch finish and the victory of Meeus. His chances were boosted by a chaotic final kilometer that saw a sizeable number of riders going the wrong way and losing their chance of sprinting for the stage.

The Great Britain team led it out but Meeus was too quick, taking what is his first victory since Paris-Bourges last October.

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“First of all, I have to thank all my teammates. They were committed 100 percent today and it’s special to feel this kind of spirit,” the Belgian said. “We hit the front at the right moment and also knew we had to take the last corner outside because of the barriers. I still had good legs in the end and could move in the bunch without taking too much risk.

“The sprint was perfect, also the timing was right. It is a wonderful feeling to be back on top of the podium after all the setbacks I had so far this season.”

Pidcock’s third place earned him a time bonus of four seconds and inched him closer to the yellow jersey. He remains second overall but is now just three seconds adrift of race leader Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar Team).

“I think I am finding my feet a little bit [after] the first few days not really knowing my place,” he said. “I think it was a successful day. This is what we planned at the start of the day, to control the break, make sure there is nothing happening there, and then do a good leadout and try to get some bonus seconds. And that is what we did.

“I don’t think I am quick enough to win a bunch sprint, but to get some bonus seconds is exactly what I wanted to do.”

Three stages remain and Pidcock is upbeat about his chances. He showed confidence when asked if he believed he could win overall.

“Yeah, I think it is possible,” he said. “Three seconds…there are a lot of time bonuses on the road. So yeah, of course. That is what the goal is.

“I think we really messed up on the first day, I think that is a stage I could have done better on. We have three more days of racing to try and win.”

How it played out:

Stage five of the Tour of Britain tracked a 186.8km route from West Bridgford to Mansfield and featured just two climbs, the category three ascent of Keyworth (km. 21.5) and the identically-ranked Sparken Hill (km. 155). It also had three intermediate sprints, at Edingley (km. 86.5), Retford (km. 138), and Clumber Park (km. 159.5).

British rider Zeb Kyffin (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) attacked almost immediately and was joined nine kilometers later by the Irishman Matthew Teggart (Wiv SunGod), the leader of the sprints competition, and the Italian Alessandro Iacchi (Team Qhubeka).

The Spaniard Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) bridged very soon afterward to form a four-man lead group.

Teggart beat Iacchi to win the first KOM sprint and move up to provisional fourth overall in the mountains classification. The break was gaining time over the Movistar-led peloton and already had a gap of over five minutes 50km after the start.

Teggart added to his intermediate sprints total by winning the sprint into Edingley ahead of Iacchi and Kyffin. The peloton was 2:39 back there and 1:55 in arrears with 50km remaining.

Teggart again beat Iacchi to take the intermediate sprint into Retford, with Kyffin and Nicolau then pushing ahead of the other two with 45km left on the clock.

Nicolau led Kyffin over Sparken Hill and also took the day’s final intermediate sprint at Clumber Park. They still had 1:16 with 20km remaining but with Team DSM, Ineos Grenadiers, and Great Britain amongst those pulling behind, the gap rapidly fell. Kyffin left Nicolau with 10.1km remaining, only to be caught by the bunch 500 meters later.

The sprinters’ teams kept the pace high towards the line, with Bora-Hansgrohe and Ineos Grenadiers amongst those prominent in the finale. The latter was setting things up for Tom Pidcock and led past the kite, but dozens of riders were caught out when they went to the right side of a traffic island and found themselves unexpectedly caught behind some barriers.

This included stage 2 winner Cees Bol (Team DSM), who lost out any chance of a win. The Great Britain team led out the sprint for Samuel Watson, who led close to the line but was overhauled by Meeus, Aniolkowski, and Pidcock.

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