Merlo takes first pro win on Britain's final stage

Michele Merlo (Barloworld) claimed his first professional victory, at the end of his first season in the pro ranks, to take the showpiece final stage of the Tour of Britain in London on Saturday.

After two second-places earlier in the week it was just reward for the 25-year old Italian, who, with Barloworld folding at the end of the year, is without a team for 2010.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) crossed the line in 39th, opting not to contest the sprint after his four stage wins in succession, on stages three, four, five and six. The 22-year old Norwegian had no need to go for win number five, having rubber-stamped his superiority, and cemented the overall win, mid-way through the final stage, by winning the third bonus sprint ahead of Chris Sutton (Garmin-Slipstream). Sutton also had a good final day, leapfrogging Martin Reimer and Kai Reus to claim second overall.

Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) was an early attacker, continuing a trend of the previous two stages, which had also seen him on the offensive, though he wasn’t allowed too much leeway. Starting the day at sixth overall, forty seconds down, he still presented an outside threat – as did his breakaway companion Tom Southam (Rapha-Condor), a minute down in 35th.

One of the stars of the race, the Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Toppsport-Vlaanderen), was predictably enough another attacker, having featured in breaks on all but one previous stage. The King of the Mountains and sprints winner admitted afterwards that he had a bizarre motivation for his final escape. "We worked out I had been on the attack for 594km," he said. "I needed 6km to make it 600. Once I had done 6km, I dropped back."

So bunched together were the first fifty riders on general classification – all of them starting the final day within a minute of Boasson Hagen – that Columbia-HTC opted to take no chances. Over the ten laps of a 9km circuit around Whitehall they kept a tight grip on proceedings.

One group that did get clear numbered five riders, with Simon Clarke (ISD-Neri), Darren Lapthorne (Rapha-Condor), Davide Appollonio (Cervelo Test Team), Tom Stamsnijder (Rabobank) and Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) putting 22 seconds between themselves and the bunch.

Of the quintet, it was the presence of Lequatre that worried Columbia-HTC. Last year’s Tour of Britain winner, who has figured in several moves throughout the race, started the day placed seventh, 43 seconds behind Boasson Hagen. They were allowed a couple of laps of freedom before being brought back.

Several teams tried to set up the final sprint, with Halfords-Bikehut appearing at the front for Rob Hayles, and Euskaltel-Euskadi also prominent, for their man Koldo Fernandez. Thomas, meanwhile, took Merlo up to the front at 2km to go, dropping him off on the fourth wheel and then watching as the punchy Italian claimed the win from Fernandez, with Sutton third and Pierpaolo De Negri (ISD-Neri) fourth.

The British riders Hayles and Russell Downing (Candi-TV-Marshalls Pasta) placed fifth and sixth, with Tour of Ireland winner Downing ending the race as best British rider overall, in fifth.

"It’s my first year as a pro and my first win, so it’s very emotional," said Merlo. "It’s also my first time in London, and it was a great stage with big crowds. Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome did a great job for me, and I really trust them. Geraint at the end took me to fourth, and then I began sprinting with 200m, hit the front then, and held on. I’m trying to find another team and this win should help."

Boasson Hagen said, "It’s really good to win, and my team has worked all week. It’s been amazing, with all the crowds." The Eneco Tour winner put his latest stage race success just below that one, pointing out: "It’s a ProTour race, so it’s a bit bigger. But I don’t normally compare results. I’m really satisfied."

His fourth stage win, into Bideford, had been the most surprising, he confessed. "I didn’t expect the fourth one. But I had a really strong team and they helped me all week."

Due to ride for Team Sky in 2010, Boasson Hagen was asked if – after three stage wins last year, and four this year – he feels a special affinity to Great Britain. "I am still a Norwegian rider," he said. "But it’s nice to win in this country."

At the world championships in Mendrisio he will ride the time trial and road race. He even managed an hour on his time trial bike after Thursday’s stage, but he played down his chances in the road race. "There are a lot of good guys, it’s a hard race, and a lot longer than this," he said. "I don’t expect to win, but I hope to do a good race."

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Full Results
1Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld1:56:55
2Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 1 - Cell 2
3Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD-NeriRow 3 - Cell 2
5Robert Hayles (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 4 - Cell 2
6Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 5 - Cell 2
7Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 7 - Cell 2
9Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 8 - Cell 2
10Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team KatushaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha CondorRow 11 - Cell 2
13Tim Mertens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 12 - Cell 2
14Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 14 - Cell 2
16Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Simon Holt (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 16 - Cell 2
18Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 17 - Cell 2
19Graeme Brown (Aus) RabobankRow 18 - Cell 2
20Brice Feillu (Fra) AgritubelRow 19 - Cell 2
21Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 20 - Cell 2
22Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Mauro Finetto (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 22 - Cell 2
24Javier Aramendia (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 23 - Cell 2
25Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 24 - Cell 2
26Ian Stannard (GBr) ISD-NeriRow 25 - Cell 2
27Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) AgritubelRow 26 - Cell 2
28Stian Remme (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 27 - Cell 2
29Kristian House (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 28 - Cell 2
30Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 29 - Cell 2
31Enrico Zen (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 30 - Cell 2
32Tanel Kangert (Est) AG2R La MondialeRow 31 - Cell 2
33Christophe Laurent (Fra) AgritubelRow 32 - Cell 2
34Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 33 - Cell 2
35Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 34 - Cell 2
36Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Kai Reus (Ned) RabobankRow 36 - Cell 2
38Grischa Niermann (Ger) RabobankRow 37 - Cell 2
39Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTCRow 38 - Cell 2
40Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - HTCRow 39 - Cell 2
41Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Mauricio Soler (Col) BarloworldRow 41 - Cell 2
43Ben Swift (GBr) Team KatushaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 44 - Cell 2
46Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 45 - Cell 2
47Blaise Sonnery (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 47 - Cell 2
49Geraint Thomas (GBr) BarloworldRow 48 - Cell 2
50Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Thomas Berkhout (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 51 - Cell 2
53Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) BarloworldRow 53 - Cell 2
55Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 54 - Cell 2
56Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) RabobankRow 55 - Cell 2
57Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 56 - Cell 2
58Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 57 - Cell 2
59Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) RabobankRow 58 - Cell 2
60Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Serge Pauwels (Bel) Cervelo Test TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Emilien Benoit Berges (Fra) AgritubelRow 61 - Cell 2
63Gert Dockx (Bel) Team Columbia - HTCRow 62 - Cell 2
64Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 63 - Cell 2
65Edward Clancy (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 64 - Cell 2
66Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-NeriRow 65 - Cell 2
67Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Tom Criel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 67 - Cell 2
69Alessandro Colo (Ita) ISD-NeriRow 68 - Cell 2
70Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 69 - Cell 2
71Bartozs Huzarsky (Pol) ISD-NeriRow 70 - Cell 2
72Filippo Savini (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 71 - Cell 2
73James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 72 - Cell 2
74Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 73 - Cell 2
75Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 74 - Cell 2
76Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 75 - Cell 2
77Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team KatushaRow 76 - Cell 2
78Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTCRow 77 - Cell 2
79Andres Sergio De Lis (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 78 - Cell 2
80Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team KatushaRow 79 - Cell 2
81Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTCRow 80 - Cell 2
82Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Steven Cummings (GBr) BarloworldRow 82 - Cell 2
84Mark McNally (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 83 - Cell 2
85Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha CondorRow 85 - Cell 2
87Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) AgritubelRow 86 - Cell 2
88Ian Bibby (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 87 - Cell 2
89Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 88 - Cell 2
90Christopher Froome (GBr) BarloworldRow 89 - Cell 2
91Josu Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:23
DNSTony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTCRow 91 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1
1Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team5pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2
1Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel5pts
2Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
4Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Sprint 3
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC5pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank2Row 2 - Cell 3
4Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Most aggressive rider
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
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Teams
1Candi TV- Pinarello RT5:50:45
2Cervelo TestTeamRow 1 - Cell 2
3Topsport Vlaanderen - MercatorRow 2 - Cell 2
4AG2R La MondialeRow 3 - Cell 2
5CSF Group - NavigareRow 4 - Cell 2
6AgritubelRow 5 - Cell 2
7VacansoleilRow 6 - Cell 2
8Joker BianchiRow 7 - Cell 2
9Rapha CondorRow 8 - Cell 2
10BarloworldRow 9 - Cell 2
11RabobankRow 10 - Cell 2
12Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 11 - Cell 2
13ISD-NeriRow 12 - Cell 2
14Team HalfordsRow 13 - Cell 2
15Team KatushaRow 14 - Cell 2
16Garmin - SlipstreamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Team Columbia-HTCRow 16 - Cell 2
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Final general classification
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC28:06:24
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream0:00:23
3Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team0:00:25
4Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank0:00:26
5Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:00:39
6Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld0:00:43
7Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) AgritubelRow 6 - Cell 2
8Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-Neri0:00:47
9Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:49
10Kristian House (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 9 - Cell 2
11Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Serge Pauwels (Bel) Cervelo Test TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank0:00:50
14Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:00:51
15Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD-Neri0:00:52
16Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RTRow 15 - Cell 2
17Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 17 - Cell 2
19Javier Aramendia (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 18 - Cell 2
20Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Ian Stannard (GBr) ISD-NeriRow 21 - Cell 2
23Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTCRow 22 - Cell 2
24Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:57
25Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:00:58
26Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha0:01:00
27Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:01:01
28Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:01:03
29Mauro Finetto (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 28 - Cell 2
30Grischa Niermann (Ger) RabobankRow 29 - Cell 2
31Christophe Laurent (Fra) AgritubelRow 30 - Cell 2
32Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) BarloworldRow 32 - Cell 2
34Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 33 - Cell 2
35Thomas Berkhout (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Brice Feillu (Fra) AgritubelRow 35 - Cell 2
37Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 36 - Cell 2
38Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker BianchiRow 37 - Cell 2
39Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team HalfordsRow 38 - Cell 2
40Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group - NavigareRow 40 - Cell 2
42Blaise Sonnery (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 41 - Cell 2
43Steven Cummings (GBr) BarloworldRow 42 - Cell 2
44Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha CondorRow 43 - Cell 2
45Bartozs Huzarsky (Pol) ISD-NeriRow 44 - Cell 2
46Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) RabobankRow 45 - Cell 2
47Mauricio Soler (Col) BarloworldRow 46 - Cell 2
48Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team KatushaRow 47 - Cell 2
49Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 48 - Cell 2
50Christopher Froome (GBr) BarloworldRow 49 - Cell 2
51Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team0:01:08
52Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:20
53Filippo Savini (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:01:27
54Tanel Kangert (Est) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:45
55Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:01:49
56Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:01:50
57Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:58
58Alessandro Colo (Ita) ISD-Neri0:03:13
59Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:04:07
60Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - HTC0:04:11
61Tom Criel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:05:13
62Gert Dockx (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:06:11
63Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel0:06:24
64Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:13:21
65Ian Bibby (GBr) Team Halfords0:16:04
66Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha0:16:26
67Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha0:16:39
68Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:17:35
69Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:17:53
70Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor0:18:08
71Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords0:18:15
72Enrico Zen (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:19:03
73Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:21:05
74Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test Team0:21:43
75Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor0:28:28
76Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:32:38
77James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:34:28
78Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:35:41
79Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld0:37:03
80Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank0:37:14
81Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:37:26
82Emilien Benoit Berges (Fra) AgritubelRow 81 - Cell 2
83Josu Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:42:12
84Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream0:42:56
85Tim Mertens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:47:08
86Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha0:48:00
87Andres Sergio De Lis (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:52:59
88Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor0:56:07
89Simon Holt (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT1:03:23
90Edward Clancy (GBr) Team Halfords1:03:34
91Robert Hayles (GBr) Team Halfords1:18:45
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Points classification
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC86pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream86Row 1 - Cell 3
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT74Row 2 - Cell 3
4Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld63Row 3 - Cell 3
5Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team54Row 4 - Cell 3
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Mountains classification
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator60pts
2Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team28Row 1 - Cell 3
3Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare22Row 2 - Cell 3
4Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld21Row 3 - Cell 3
5Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test Team19Row 4 - Cell 3
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Sprint classification
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator48pts
2Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team30Row 1 - Cell 3
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel15Row 3 - Cell 3
5Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank11Row 4 - Cell 3
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Teams classification
1Rabobank84:21:39
2Cervelo TestTeam0:00:09
3VacansoleilRow 2 - Cell 2
4ISD-NeriRow 3 - Cell 2
5CSF Group - Navigare0:00:20
6BarloworldRow 5 - Cell 2
7Garmin - SlipstreamRow 6 - Cell 2
8AG2R La MondialeRow 7 - Cell 2
9Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 8 - Cell 2
10Agritubel0:00:31
11Rapha CondorRow 10 - Cell 2
12Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:00:36
13Team Columbia-HTC0:01:12
14Team Halfords0:01:28
15Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:48
16Team Katusha0:15:43
17Joker Bianchi0:17:21

 

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