The wall-to-wall rain that had been predicted for stage four of the Tour of Britain fortunately failed to materialise and the sigh of relief from the organisers and riders alike, following yesterday’s downpour, was almost palpable. Belgian hard man, Tom Boonen, who crashed yesterday, started the stage today with a large plaster covering his grazes; the world champion has no chance for the overall nor do any of his team mates, so he is probably staying on for the stage win in London on Sunday – should be a cracking sprint finish which would give Boonen his 20th win of the year … unless someone like T-Mobile’s new signing, Mark Cavendish, can stop him!
Today’s stage saw British riders in the thick of the action with Mark Cavendish finishing second and Paul Manning third. They were part of an eight rider break that was away for most of the day and which finished over five minutes ahead of the chasing bunch. But it was the Belgian rider, Frederik Willems, who took the glory at the finish in Birmingham finishing well clear of Cavendish with a two second advantage. The Chocolade Jacques rider said afterwards, “I didn’t have a good day yesterday and I felt cold but today I felt good. I knew I needed to attack early to get a good break and the plan worked.”
The five minute advantage gained by the break didn’t change the overall standings with race leader, Martin Pedersen, still 51 seconds clear of second placed Luis Pasamontes. The best placed British rider is Russell Downing in eighth place, who also still wears the green jersey as leader of the Points Competition. The prediction for tomorrow’s penultimate stage from Rochester to Canterbury is for heavy rain, but let’s hope the Met Office have got it wrong again.
1. Frederik Willems - Chocolade Jacques-Topsport 2h54'12"
2. Mark Cavendish - T-Mobile @ 02"
3. Paul Manning - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago @ 06"
4. Juan Manuel Garate - QuickStep-Innergetic @ 13"
5. Geraint Thomas - Great Britain @ 15"
1. Martin Pedersen - CSC 15h25'56"
2. Luis Pasamontes - Unibet.com @ 51"
3. Filippo Pozzato - QuickStep-Innergetic @ 02'11"
4. Michael Rogers - T-Mobile @ 02'46"
5. Nick Nuyens - QuickStep-Innergetic @ 02'47"