Britain: Wiggins thrills but Ardila wins

auricio Ardila clinches overall victory in the Tour of Britain as Enrico Degano takes the final cri

auricio Ardila clinches overall victory in the Tour of Britain as Enrico Degano takes the final cri
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Colombian Mauricio Ardila (Chocolade Jacques) won the overall classification of the Tour of Britain in London on Sunday, finishing the final stage safely in the peloton, with Enrico Degano of Barloworld snatching the win in a bunch gallop from Crdit Agricole's Julian Dean. Massive crowds lined the 1.6-kilometre circuit around Westminster, swelled by the unseasonably hot, sunny weather. Local hero Bradley Wiggins (Crdit Agricole) was clearly the crowd's favourite on the back of his Olympic successes, with British national champion Roger Hammond of the Belgian squad a close second in the popularity stakes. Ireland's David O'Loughlin, Charly Wegelius of the Great Britain team and South African champion Ryan Cox of the Barloworld squad escaped the field in the early stages, but O'Loughlin was soon left behind. Wegelius and Cox pushed on alone, establishing a 21-second advantage over the main field with a third of the race distance covered. But Ardila's Chocolade Jacques team was attentive at the head of the field all day, and Cox and Wegelius were soon swept up. With half of the race distance covered, Wiggins sent the spectators crazy by attacking with David McCann (Ireland), Nico Mattan of Relax-Bodysol and Kieran Page of the GB squad. But the quartet's lead never reached more than 30 seconds and, as the Chocolade Jacques and Quick Step teams closed the gap, Wiggins jumped again with three laps to go, with only Mattan able to follow the Londoner. To the disappointment of an expectant crowd, Wiggins and Mattan were caught by the peloton with just a lap to go, with Quick Step working especially hard to set up Tom Boonen for a second stage win. But it was Barloworld who came to the front in the closing stages, leading out Degano for the win, with the Italian able to beat Dean by half a bike length on the line. "In the last kilometre, my team-mate Stefan Adamsson worked hard for me," Degano said. "I started my sprint with 200 metres to go, and only thought about the white finish line. "This Tour of Britain has been incredible," continued Degano. "Today it was the first time I'd seen so many people at a bike race." Ardila took the first stage race victory of his career, with Dean second thanks to the time bonus he received for finishing second on the stage. Boonen's Quick Step team-mate Nick Nuyens dropped a place to finish third. Like Degano, Ardila was quick to praise his Chocolade Jacques team-mates. "I'm very happy and would like to thank them for their hard work," the Colombian said. "I'm also very happy to be here in London, as there were a lot of Colombians in the crowd. "The team was very good today," Ardila continued. "It was a short race so I wanted to stay near the front to stay out of trouble because you never know what might happen in a race like this. But I've felt comfortable all week with the team, and was never in much danger today." Chocolade Jacques are not certain to continue as a team next season, so Ardila is hoping that his climbing skills will appeal to a team where he can be certain of riding bigger events. "I'm not sure where I'll be riding next year, but I hope that after this victory it'll be a little bit easier to find a team for next season," he said, "and I hope to be in one of the teams that will participate in the Pro Tour." Stage 5, Westminster criterium 1 Enrico Degano (Ita) Barloworld 72.4km in 1.27.30 (49.65kph) 2 Julian Dean (NZ) Crdit Agricole 3 Kirk Obee (USA) Navigators 4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5 Jeremy Hunt (GB) 6 Ciaran Power (Ire) Navigators 7 Paride Grillo (Ita) Panaria 8 Alejandro Borrajo (Arg) Panaria 9 Yanto Barker (GB) Wales 10 Roger Hammond (GB) Final overall standings 1 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Chocolade Jacques 18.58.36 2 Julian Dean (NZ) Crdit Agricole 0.12 3 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 0.17 4 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Crdit Agricole 0.18 5 Fernandez Moreno (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 0.19 6 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) T-Mobile 0.20 7 Michele Bartoli (Ita) CSC 0.24 8 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal 9 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 0.27 10 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators Green points jersey: Julian Dean (Credit Agricole) Polka-dot 'King of the Mountains' jersey: Ben Day ( Blue intermediate sprints jersey: Rodney Green (Barloworld)
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