Tour of Britain 8: Albasini takes overall

Greipel completes HTC-Columbia dominance with third stage win in London

Securing his third win of this year's race and his 20th professional victory of the season, André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) took the bunch sprint in London ahead of Sebastien Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) and Britain’s own Roger Hammond (Cervélo Test Team).

After seven stages racing through some of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain, the Tour of Britain held its final stage in the hustle and bustle of the regenerated docklands of east London on a 7.5 mile closed road circuit.

The city’s vibrant atmosphere was matched by the furious racing that has been constant in this years race, with Greipel, as he has done throughout this edition of Britain's premier cycling event, again dominating the sprint finish.

The overall lead of Greipel’s team mate Michael Albasini also went unchallenged, with the 29-year-old rider becoming the first Swiss winner of the Tour of Britain. On a fast, flat stage there were unlikely to be large time gaps, however, the top three on general classification changed when Greg Henderson won the first two intermediate sprints and gained six seconds to move up to third place and depose Richie Porte (Team Saxo Bank) to fourth overall.

The podium was rounded out by King of the Mountains winner Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), sprint competition winner Michael Golas (Vacansoleil) and points classification champ Greg Henderson (Team Sky). The day’s combativity award was rightly awarded to Irish national road champion Matt Brammeier (AN Post Sean Kelly).

But the biggest award went to Albasini, who finished a tough week in the best way possible. "I feel perfect; I'm very happy about this victory. It's a really important victory for me because it's the first one this season," he said. "Two days after my stage win I was a little bit sick and lost power and was nearly ready to go home like Tony Martin had done, so I'm really happy that I could defend the jersey thanks to my team mates."

Stage eight, the TfL London Stage (sponsored by Transport for London) saw large crowds lining the traffic free route that went through Silvertown, Canning Town (across the river Thames from the Millenium Dome), past Royal Victoria Dock (Excel Centre) and returning via Royal Albert Dock to the turn at Cyprus and finishing outside the state of the art Newham Council Office.

In an effort for final glory there were attacks too numerous to mention with one break going after another and in a change to the normal pattern of this year’s race it wasn’t simply Sky and Columbia who were chasing - all the teams without a rider in the break took a turn at the front.

Although the Sky team won a stage (stage two) and the points jersey courtesy of Greg Henderson, its inaugural Tour of Britain didn’t go all to plan. Henderson explained that some of the squad's objectives were still met, regardless of its missing out on the overall victory.

"Obviously it's nice winning one of the jerseys, it was an objective of Team Sky," said Henderson. "Today we had a chance to move up in the GC and the team rode strongly so we managed to do that. So, we finished third overall and the points classification and a stage win so its been a pretty successful week.

"It's been a tough week, that's for sure. It's been a very stressful and very tough week, but the team did a fantastic job. It was a tough, tough course this year with really lumpy stages which made some really good racing."

The luck of team Sky didn’t change on the final day and apparently when the legendary team bus (known as the Death Star) backed into the hotel car park a group of foreign tourists mistook it for their own coach and loaded their luggage onto it. While those fans may not have appreciated the work done by Henderson et al, the Kiwi paid tribute to the thousands of British cycling public who supported the event.

"The British fans were awesome, really awesome. Some of the crowds were two or three deep - it's great to see such a big turnout. We wanted to put on a good show for the public because it's a home race," said Henderson.

"We wanted a classification jersey and we ticked that box, we wanted a stage win and we ticked that box and we wanted to put someone on the podium in the overall and we just managed to tick that box today."

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