PIC BY TOUROFBRITAIN.CO.UK
Quick Step's Nick Nuyens all but secured overall victory in this year's Tour of Britain when he won today's fifth stage time trial in Birmingham city centre. The Belgian narrowly held off CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Michael Blaudzun to take his first time trial victory as a pro.
Blaudzun could still deny Nuyens overall victory tomorrow if he can take some of the bonuses on offer during the concluding Westminster criterium. However, Quick Step's control of Nuyens' position has been unassailable over the past few days since his stage one victory in Castle Douglas, and it would be a huge surprise to see them lose their grip now.
"If you'd said I'd win two stages and be top in the general classification I'd think you were having a laugh," said Nuyens. "I know I'm faster than Blaudzun so I'm feeling confident. Any win is special, but a stage race win is always important to your career.
"It's nice, the team has a good chance because I know I'm faster than Blaudzun if it comes down to the sprints," added Nuyens. "The team are really strong. It's not been easy for them with a team of just six and the stages are really hard so I owed them something and that's why I had to win the stage to make sure of keeping the jersey."
Recycling.co.uk's Paul Manning came home to Brum and was the closest of the British riders to denying the ProTour stars as he finished fourth for the second day in a row. "I got a fantastic reception and that gave me a real buzz," admitted Manning, who pushed world time trial champion Michael Rogers down into fifth place. "It probably spurred me on a little bit because I didn't really expect to be quicker than five minutes. I don't get home often enough but it was great to see some friendly faces today. I was so focused on race I couldn't see how big the crowd was but they sounded loud."
Indeed, the crowd was so large that the time trial caused traffic disruption in the city centre. It could only be eased by opening some of the course to traffic, delaying the start times of some of the later riders. While this may not go down well with the International Cycling Union, it must be balanced against the obvious popularity of the event. Cycling, it seems, is back on the British public's sporting radar again.
Stage 5, Birmingham time trial
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 4km in 4.54 (48.97kph)
2 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC 0.01
3 Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC
4 Paul Manning (GB) Recycling.co.uk 0.04
5 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 0.05
6 Ben Day (Aus) MrBookmaker.com 0.09
7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step 0.11
8 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Chris Newton (GB) Recycling.co.uk 0.12
10 Bram Schmitz (Hol) T-Mobile
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 17.33.38
2 Blaudzun 0.08
3 Javier Cherro (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 0.23
4 Day 0.28
5 Phil Zajicek (USA) Navigators 0.33
6 Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0.34
7 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 0.40
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 1.09
9 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 1.20
10 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com 1.21
PIC BY TOUROFBRITAIN.CO.UK