Matthias Brändle and IAM Cycling decided to force the hand of their rivals, with the Austrian soloing to victory on stage five of the Tour of Britain. On stage four Brändle found himself the hunter as he helped to track down the nine riders up the road, on Thursday he was the hunted.
"We have a good GC chance with (Sylvain) Chavanel and today we wanted to go into the breakaway to make the other teams work so that we could easily stay in the peloton," said Brändle in the post-race press conference. "Yesterday we had to chase back the breakaway, it was also my job to go really deep and try to chase them back."
"It was a really nice victory for me at the Tour of Britain, because there are some really good guys here and I’m really happy that I could take the win."
Brändle and his band of breakaway brothers, despite the best efforts of Garmin-Sharp, hit the final ascent of Stoke Hill with a lead of just over a minute. They sensed that victory was a remote possibility and then with four kilometres remaining, the 24-year-old decided to shed his companions before going all out on the fast descent into Exeter.
"During the race, nobody in the breakaway really believed that we could win, because we only had one minute. Then they gave us a little bit more… I had the best legs on the final climb and I tried to go as hard as I could," explained Brändle. "I had the feeling that I was the strongest in the group, and if you’re the strongest then you don’t really want to wait for a sprint."
Third win of the season
It is Brändle's third victory this season after Berner Rundfahrt and the Austrian national time trial championships Brändle turned professional at age of 20 with Footon-Servetto and made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia that same year. When the team folded in 2011, he moved to NetApp for a season before making the switch to IAM Cycling for last season.
During Friday's stage six from Bath to Hemel Hempstead, Brändle is likely to resume his work in the peloton for his team leader Chavanel. The Frenchman has been able to stay with the better climbers in the peloton and is currently 45 seconds back on Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the general classification.
"For sure, the Tour of Britain isn't over. There are stages coming where we are really motivated to do something more," said Brändle. "Maybe it will be hard to beat Kwiatkowski in the time trial, but for sure we can go for it. I think that we have a good chance for the podium and that is our goal here."