PIC BY TOUROFBRITAIN.CO.UK
T-Mobile's Sergei Ivanov won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain, leading in a four-man break that had gone clear just 10km into the 184km stage from Buxton to Nottingham. The canny Russian drew on the knowledge that has gained him stage wins in the Tour de France and Tour of Switzerland to outwit Scotland's Evan Oliphant, who had been led out by Paul Manning, with whom the Scot usually rides in the Recycling.co.uk team.
Despite being cruelly edged into second place, Oliphant's performance was a much-needed tonic for a Scottish team who have suffered to make an impact after being caught out by a breakaway during Tuesday's first stage to Castle Douglas. "I knew the team needed a good result, although I'm disappointed I couldn't have got a win for them," said Oliphant. "I can't be too unhappy with second but I really fancied my chances of a stage win."
"I got a bit caught out in the final few metres, I got a bad line into the finish and the race for first was over for me then."
Oliphant's performance was even more impressive considering it came just 48 hours after a nasty crash during a greasy sprint finish in Blackpool. He toiled during Wednesday's climbing stage in the Peak District and came to the lline yesterday swathed in bandages and nursing a pulled muscle in his shoulder.
Oliphant was part of a four-man breakaway that surged clear after just six miles and still held a 10-minute advantage at the finish. As the foursome flew past the large crowds viewing the stage all day, Manning and Oliphant tried valiantly to unsettle the powerhouse Russian champion, but were unable to shake him.
At the finish Manning was philosophical: "It was pretty good today, it could have been better, it was good to get into the action again and have a crack, we had a good gap and we worked well. It was great result for Evan, but we were looking for the win."
Looking back at a very successful three days for the Recycling.co.uk team in Britain's premier race, Manning said: "It's been hard, but it's good to get stuck in, we've earned our place in the race and proved that we've been one of the most effective teams, it's exciting to do well, to get second and fourth today we were flying the flag for the team."
Wales' Julian Winn's signed off on his last Tour of Britain much the way he started his glittering cycling career. The former British champion, who will retire after next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, rode the perfect tactical race to ensure he claimed the Tour of Britain King of the Mountains title with two stages to spare.
He said: "I'm delighted and it shows the Welsh team deserve to be in the race and it proves to the organisers we are a competitive outfit worthy of our invite. We were all very disappointed not to have more riders higher in the overall classification but to win a major jersey on your home Tour makes amends."
Winn admits he still thinks he has what it takes to perform at the top-level but finances dictate his decision to retire and take over as Welsh national coach. "There comes a time when you just need to pay the bills," he added. "It's not unusual to get a bit niggly when you know your career is coming to an end and it's not an issue of not being competitive anymore. But I'm highly excited about working with the next generation, they are the future now, not me.
"We've got a large number of exciting youngsters coming through. Not only with the team here this week but we've also got Yanto Barker and Geraint Thomas racing with other teams. Welsh cycling is a very exciting place to work at the moment."
Belgium's Nick Nuyens remains in the leader's yellow jersey with a seven-second advantage over his nearest rival Michael Blaudzun going into Saturday's crucial time trial in Birmingham.
Stage 4, Buxton-Nottingham
1 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile 184.2km in 4.24.17 (41.82kph)
2 Evan Oliphant (GB) Scotland
3 Kazuo Inoue (Jpn) Bridgestone
4 Paul Manning (GB) Recycling.co.uk
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step 10.06
6 Mark Cavendish (GB) Great Britain
7 Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Bridgestone
8 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step
9 Lars Michaelsen (Den) CSC
10 Javier Cherro (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 17.28.44
2 Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC 0.07
3 Javier Cherro (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 0.10
4 Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0.16
5 Phil Zajicek (USA) Navigators 0.19
6 Ben Day (Aus) MrBookmaker.com
7 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 0.22
8 Yanto Barker (GB) DFL 1.03
9 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 1.04
10 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com 1.05
PIC BY TOUROFBRITAIN.CO.UK