FanPost

Tour of Britain - stages 8a and 8b report (photo heavy)

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Cav signing meeting the fans before the time trial

It's not everyday a major biggish race comes to town and today was extra special: London got both a time trial and a road race. Neither was realistically going to change the overall outcome of the Tour of Britain (the TT was only 8.9km and the circuit so flat a bunch sprint was inevitable) but it was fun to see who was going to win and might be showing good form ahead of the world champs, so into town I went. I took my camera with me and shutterbugged all day. Here are a selection that tell the story, even more can be found on my flickr account (and some are lacking names - please add them if you can)

First port of call was the team buses parked on the roads between Whitehall and the Embankment. Access was free-and-easy, the sun was shining and most of the riders seemed relaxed...

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Europcar riders warm up (not sure who?)

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Alex Wetterhall

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Lieuwe Westra

I then wandered out onto the course watching at the first and second turns (where there's a nice bridge to take photos from) and on the road in between.

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Franck Bouyer - these cyclist go fast!

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Mark Renshaw

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Gäel Le Bellec ploughs a lonely furrow - unlike the big teams Raleigh couldn't muster a car to follow all their riders and at least two were on standard road bikes - how the mighty have fallen...

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Alex Dowsett in his recently-earned GB TT champion's skinsuit

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Geraint Thomas showing war wounds from earlier in the week

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Cav looking like he's suffering barely 1km in (afterwards his twitter said: "Uuurghhh. It's not often I do those TimeTrial efforts anymore! Think I've taken a layer off the inside of my lungs!")

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A banged up Steve Cummings doing a good ride which took him into second overall

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Lars Boom

The TT ended with Dowsett the winner 5s ahead of Boom and Westra who tied for second. That left Boom safely in gold for the afternoon's circuit race. Cummings' ride (9s down) earned him fourth on the stage and dragged him up to second in the GC. Jan Barta of NetApp moved up to third as teammate Leopold König dropped 38s on Boom and into fifth spot overall from second in the morning.

That left the scene set for the afternoon's circuit race where the only question was "Can Cav win?". With a few hours break I headed to the pub to contemplate...

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If you need a pint in the West End the Harp comes heartily recommended serving a fine selection of real ales (including from Dark Star Brewing) and cider, and hot sausages.

I met up with a few friends and headed down to the start-finish straight on Whitehall between 200m and 150m to go where a subtle turn to the left gave an excellent view from the final turn to the finish line. A big screen TV allowed us to keep an eye on the action on the rest of the circuit.

We got some more beer and hung out as riders went for a last spin having warmed up:

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Bernie Eisel

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Some Rabos (help me on this one...)

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Beer. Mmmmmm.

Then they were off. Ronan McLlaughlin (An Post-Sean Kelly) attacked from the gun. About halfway round the first lap of the circuit Kristian House made Albertina happy by bridging across to him. These two swapped turns out front until the penultimate lap, achieving a maximum gap of about 30s. As the laps went on their painfaces got better and better while Rabobank, Sky and HTC shared the work on the front of the peloton. Occasionally McLaughlin's teammates would come the front to mop up intermediate sprints and make sure their man Pieter Ghyllebert stayed in the sprints jersey.

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Ronan McLaughlin leads Kristian House

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Rabobank lead the peloton

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Matt Brammier and Mark Renshaw lead Cav who's follwed in turn my Lars Boom and Geraint Thomas

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Pieter Ghyllebert licks his lips at the prospect of winning the sprints jersey

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Thor Hushovd on his last race in the rainbow jersey

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Ronan McLaughlin and Kristian House suffer

Shortly before the bell lap - and with rain beginning to fall - McLaughlin and House start attacking each other. McLaughlin goes first then House. McLaughlin gives up and is soon engulfed by the peloton. Houses cross the line with barely ten seconds. Somewhere on the run up to the Tower of London he's caught. By this time it's properly pissing it down and its sprint time on the wet greasy roads of London. This could get interesting...

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Robert Förster leads the sprint out with Renshaw on his wheel - Cav looks to be out of it some way behind Swift and Thomas

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Giacomo Nizzolo tries to stay in it

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Cav (on the right) launches his last burst as others trail behind

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The winner's probably crossing the line about now as Hushovd, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (105 in the white and green KOM jersey) and others come past me

Cav came out the winner (HTC's 507th) with Renshaw second and Förster third. Looking at my photos he came from some way back and without a wheel to follow which doesn't make it an easy victory. Is this a sign of good form for Copenhagen?

Lars Boom rolled in in a group a little bit back, safely out of the sprint, to secure the overall win. Cummings and Barta where there too to secure their podium places. Geraint Thomas did enough to win the points jersey and with no climbs today Tiernan-Locke just had to finish to take home the KOM prize, which he did. The last jersey - sprints - went to Pieter Ghyllebert of An Post-Sean Kelly (thanks to their breakaway antics over the week the team took out second, third, sixth and eighth in this competition too).

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed all the photos.

All photos © Will Armitage (I don't need no stnkin' permission cause that's me...)

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