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Tour of Britain 2016: Stage 7a


 Hello and welcome to stage 7a of the Tour of Britain, a 14.2km time trial in Bristol.

 The first rider will be out the starting gate on the in around 20 minutes at 10.01. That's AN Post's Emiel Wastyn.


The riders face wet roads on what is a tricky-in-places route. There's a fast descent down Rownham Hill just after the riders cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge, before a flat blast around the harbour-side of south and central Bristol, before returning back toward Clifton. Just after the 3km to go marker, the riders swing onto the climb of Bridge Valley Road, which is just 600m but has an average gradient of 9 per cent according to Strava. At the top, it's a flat 2km to the finish, so riders will have to dose their effort just so to avoid fading.     


Among the early interest, before we get to the GC battle, Bradley Wiggins is off at 10:16am. Movistar's Alex Dowsett, another Briton who could lay down an early marker, starts at 10:24am.  

AndSound the trumpets, Wastyn is on his way. 


We're rattling through the starters now. Owain Doull, the TP gold medallist is now on the road. 


The course should take around 20 minutes.  


This TT course will be turned into this afternoon's circuit race so it's a useful sighter for the riders. There's some novel road obstacles for them to contend with including the toll booths on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  


Ed Clancy has dropped in to say hello to Bradley Wiggins who is on the start ramp. 


Seems you can't move for Olympic medallists in Bristol today. 


Wiggins is on his road bike today. A measure of the technicality of the course and perhaps a suggestion that we shouldn't look to him for the early marker, but let's see.    


Movistar's Alex Dowsett is looking up for it. The National TT champ is off in a minute. 



Alex Edmondson, of Orica-Bike Exchange has set the early marker: 19:32.  


The top 10 starts at 11:49, with Guillaume Martin. The Wanty- Group Gobert climber was the best French amateur a couple of years ago and he's a smart cookie too, he was a philosophy student who took a strong interest in Nietzsche's work. 


Doull finishes nearly a minute down on Edmondson. 


It's going to be a great GC battle later. This is what the top 10 looks like. There's going to be a real tussle between Dumoulin and Dennis. 


1 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data 27:04:11
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:49
3 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:51
4 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:00:53
5 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:57
6 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:00:58
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:01:06
8 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:14
9 Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:20
10 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:01:24





Dowsett is looking good. He's leading at the halfway point. 


20:31 for Bradley Wiggins. The only rider allowed to take his hands off the bars when he crosses the line in celebration. He's clearly enjoying communing with his people.  


From one big beast to another: Mark Cavendish started a moment ago. 


Dowsett smashes the current fastest time: 18:41. That'll last a while we reckon...unless Taylor Phinney who's off in a few minutes goes better.   


The last time the Tour of Britain was in Bristol was 2014 when Michal Kwiatkowski won the stage and took the yellow jersey. 


Cannondale's Ryan Mullen pushes Dowsett close and finishes a second off the Briton's pace. 


There's some good crowds out along the Coronation Road, which, incidentally, is home to a great Indian restaurant, the Coronation Curry House.


So far the top three is 

1 Dowsett (Movistar) 18:41
2 Mullen (Cannondale Drapac) 18:42
3 Edmondson (Orica-Bike Exchange) 19:32



The next threat to Dowsett's time, Taylor Phinney (BMC) is underway.  


Cavendish comes home in 21:40. Saving himself for the work this afternoon on behalf of Stephen Cummings


BMC's young stagiaire Taylor Eisenhart has gone third fastest in 18:56. Three riders are under 19:00 now. 


I count six National TT champions in this field today
- Nicolas Roche (Ire)
- Taylor Phinney (USA)
- Alex Dowsett (GBr)
- Tom Dumoulin (Ned)
- Rohan Dennis (Aus)
- Tony Martin (Ger)


And one of them, Etixx-Quick Step's Tony Martin, is probably negotiating the Rownham Hill descent as we speak. 


Taylor Phinney crashed on the course while he was fastest at the halfway point. He's finished now and still clocked 18.46, five seconds off Dowsett's pace. That's hard, hard luck for Phinney. 


Tony Martin is going well, very well. He's a second faster than Dowsett at the halfway point. 


It looks like the roundabout at the furthest point of the course is causing havoc. There's been a few crashes there.  At least five says @oddbydefault on Twitter. 


Movistar's Gorka Izaguirre is off in a few minutes. He's a handy time triallist when he wants to be and was second in the Spanish national championships TT in 2015. 


Tony Martin's just smashed Dowsett's time by 35 seconds. New leader at 18:06. 


So T Martin takes the hotseat in 18:06, Dowsett is second at 18:41 and Mullen is third at 18:42. 


Wout Poels of Sky will be coming home soon. As he told Cyclingnews's top dog Daniel Benson, he wants Grand Tour leadership opportunities. 

“This winter we have to look with the team as to what my programme will be and what they want to do, and with Chris," he said. "Maybe it will be the Vuelta or the Giro but we have to look at it.
“I think the Vuelta might be better but I’ve done the Giro one time and I also really liked it there. We have to see.”


You can read the whole story here.


Poels finishes in a time of 19:07. That's tenth fastest.   


We're almost in the top 10 now. and a quick recap. Tony Martin has set the benchmark of 18:06, which is 35 seconds faster than Alex Dowsett. With Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin riding, Martin's time could be under threat and it shows what a challenge the current leader Cummings faces to hang onto his leader's jersey.   



Cummings has a 49 second cushion at the top of the GC and he's going to need every second.  


Cummings can time trial, there's no doubt about that - he's a been a regular top 10 finisher in grand tour TTs in the past, but he's still going to have to put it all out there. 


Cummings can time trial, there's no doubt about that - he's a been a regular top 10 finisher in grand tour TTs in the past, but he's still going to have to put it all out there. 


We're in the heart of the top 10 now. Irish national champ roche is out on course, as is Sky team-mate Ben Swift. there's a two minute gap between top 10 riders's start times. 


As expected Gorka Izaguirre, pulled a great time out the bag: 18:31. good enough for second. 



Our top three

Tony Martin - 18:05
Gorka Izaguirre 18:31
Alex Dowsett 18:41



That's a great ride from young Tao Geoghagan Hart: 6th fastest at 18:50.   


Dennis is underway


Dumoulin is out the blocks and Cummings is on the ramp: game on. 


It's a full yellow skinsuit for Cummings. 


Rohan Dennis is on the fastest part of the course in that very low tuck. Great to watch. 


Roche is fourth fastest at 18:42. 


Dennis is fastest at the halfway point, but we don't know by how much. 


That's a good rider by Dylan Van Baarle. He stops the clock in 18:46, the sixth fastest, 


that's immediately bettered by Tony Gallopin who stops the clock dead at 18:31


Dennis's time will be next. 


It could be massive.... 


Dennis is second at 18:09. 


Dumoulin is third fastest at 18:11

So Tony Martin will win this unless Cummings is storming. 


Cummings needs to keep this under 19:00


We're expecting cummings any moment 


Marvellous ride there from Cummings 18:22. Easily holds onto yellow. 


Superb jersey defence there by Cummings as he finishes fourth. He lost just 16 seconds to Martin who was on a great day. 


That's Tony Martin's first international TT win since the Tour of Romandie last year. (He's picked up both national TT titles in the intervening period though.) 


Tony Martin will be happy with that as it ends a bit of a win drought and he got one over on Dennis and Dumoulin. 


Taylor Phinney will be rueing what might have been after crashing just after he set the fastest time at the halfway point. 


Just to confirm the top 5 on the stage
1 Martin 18:06
2 Dennis +03
3 Dumoulin +05
4 Cummings +16
5 Gallopin +25

And how that left the GC Top 10
1. Cummings
2. Dumoulin +38
3. Dennis +st
4. Gallopin +1:02
5. van Baarle +1:21


Join us at 14:30 for this afternoon's circuit stage which is on the same course as this morning's TT.

And don't forget to keep up with all the action from the crucial penultimate stage of the Vuelta here: 


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