Stage 7: Hatherleigh - Yeovil
By Gerry McManus, Cyclingnews.com
Friday, September 18, 2009 2.11pm
Boasson Hagen leads by 23 seconds
Katusha's Ben Swift sprints to a win ahead of teammate Filippo Pozzato and Edvald Boasson Hagen after stage 7 of the 2009 Tour of Britain September 18, 2009. Gerry McManus
Ben Swift (Team Katusha) pulled off his first professional career victory when he won the bunch sprint in Yeovil on Friday following stage 7 of the 2009 Tour of Britain.
The Yorkshireman has had every place in the top ten so far this year except seventh and first. Today, he became the first Brit to win a stage of the Tour of Britain since Paul Manning won the final stage in Glasgow two years ago.
The tough terrain was not enough to break Columbia-HTC's tight control over the race despite numerous attempts by other teams to distance themselves from Columbia-HTC's race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Katusha's Filippo Pozzato gave his teammate the perfect leadout in a tricky finish with two tight turns within the last 200m, and the Italian champion held onto second place ahead of race leader Boasson Hagen, who will almost certainly be crowned the Tour of Britain race winner in London tomorrow barring accidents in the two-hour criterium finale.
The attacking action started early with Alto Galdos (Eustakel-Euskadi) and Filippo Salvini (CSF Navigare) the first to gain a clear lead before the first climb of the day at Cadbury Hill. Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) lead a seven-man group that included teammates Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas and two Columbia-HTC riders.
The seven chasers made it over to the two leaders but only before AG2R, Cervelo & Vacansoleil brought the bunch up to make it gruppo compatto again. Kristian House (Rapha Condor) was the next to make his move with Joker Bianchi's Stian Remme. The two leaders rapidly blasted their way into a five-minute lead using the twisty lanes but the duo knew they would be struggling into a headwind when they turned for Yeovil. They had a tailwind on the way out of Honiton, and the lead was starting to come down when they climbed their way out of town with Columbia-HTC on the front of the bunch.
The gap to the leaders was only just over two minutes at Tytherleigh after three and quarter hours of racing. Garmin put in an attack from the bunch at Cricket St Thomas with young Tom Peterson from Seattle moving clear in an attempt to join the leaders. Peterson was brought back but Bart Vanheule (TopSport - Vlaanderen) counter attacked and made it across to make it three riders with a lead of around 10 seconds. House was starting to suffer, and the leaders' impressive pace faded. So it was all back together in the final 10km with Barloworld leading the peloton. Geraint Thomas attacked on the final climb with only five kilometers to go but no one was going to be let go at this late stage.
Swift, Boasson Hagen and Pozzato were well clear of a crash occuring in the final kilometre, and Swift came off the Italian's wheel to taste victory for the first time in his pro career.
Thomas De Gendt (TopSport - Vlaanderen) added the sprints jersey to the mountains jersey he won yesterday.
Kai Reus (Rabobank) sits second overall at 23 seconds, Martin Reimer (Cervelo) is third at 25 seconds and Chris Sutton (Garmin Slipstream) is fourth at 28 seconds. Overall victory is almost a sure thing for Boasson Hagen.