Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) showed that he's not willing to give up his Tour of Britain title without a fight. The defending champion put in an aggressive performance on the second stage, fighting for the bonus seconds available at the intermediate sprints. He only gained a second in the overall standings but each one can matter in a race that is as unpredictable as the Tour of Britain.
"I tried to take some seconds because you never know what’s going to happen. In the end, Vakoc was away and we tried fighting on the front and to do a sprint but we blew up a little bit," van Baarle told Cyclingnews at the finish in Colne.
Van Baarle noted, however, that he won't be targeting the bonus second as a rule. "When you can take them it's nice but we are not going to ride for the seconds. If I am in the position to take the seconds as easy as possible then we'll do that but it's not in the plan to work really hard for the seconds."
Van Baarle was one of 40 riders to make the cut when the bunch split on the penultimate climb and held on to finish with the main bunch, which was led home by Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN Qhubeka) at nine seconds down. He currently sits sixth overall at 18 seconds down on the new race leader Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) and is still in contention for his second consecutive victory.
"It's been pretty hard but I feel ok and the team has been going well," said Van Baarle. "Etixx is a really strong team and of course they will try it. Vakoc was also really strong yesterday and he was all day on the front. It won't be easy to get the yellow jersey but there are still some stages to go."
Van Baarle isn't looking too far into the distance, hoping that he can finish strongly on the Hartside Fell on Thursday. He lost 35 seconds in last year's summit finish before coming back on the penultimate stage to seal the overall win.
"I think that the first goal is the mountain top finish. Afterwards we will see where we are in the GC and then make a different plan but first we have to not lose as many seconds as possible on the mountain stage and then we will see," he said. "I haven't seen it yet but they say it was like last year so it will be pretty hard I think."