We’re back. Welcome to stage 7b of the 2016 Tour of Britain. This afternoon’s action is a 90.6km circuit race utilising this morning’s time trial route.
To recap the course. the rider start on Clifton Down and make towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon. The riders then face a steep descent of Rownham Hill –it should have dried out after this morning – toward the Cumberland Basin. The riders then have a flat section alongside the river before crossing a bridge and doubling back. The circuit starts to hot up in the final 3km when the riders hit the Bridge Valley Road for the ascent back into Clifton. It’s a 15.1km circuit covered six times so 90.6 in total.
We're just over five minutes from the riders rolling out.
The riders are on the start-line now and the flag is waved. They're off.
The riders look like eager beavers at the moment and are all over the back of the lead car.
The riders are just passing the zoo and will be soon on Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Cummings in the yellow jersey is just riding towards the back. After this morning's great TT, the jersey is all but his as he is 38 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin.
We're still in the neutrral section as the peloton is given a sighting of Rownham Hill descent.
At the bottom of the descent Greipel attacks straight away.
But there's nothing doing and Tom Stewart of Madison Genesis tries to get away.
Mark Christian of Team Wiggins tries to get away. No Dice and Connor Dunne of JLT-Condor is next to have a go.
Huge crowds along Cumberland Road as a small group goes clear
The peloton is strung right out as they strain to bring back the group.
Now Pete Williams of One Pro Cycling attacks.
Nope, the peloton aren't happy with that and pull back Williams.
The riders are now tackling the climb of Bridge Valley Road. Bardiani's Bongiorno tries to make a fo of it.
He's helped by his team-mate Zardini and a gap emerges.
The race is a being run at a furious pace and Bardiani try to make the gap work.
The riders have just passed through the finish and the peloton's in two sections.
Bardiani and Etixx lead the front group and Cummings was caught out there and is forced to chase across the gap to the first peloton.
Tony Martin is now attacking hard. Gorka Izaguirre chases and the peloton - or what's left of it - is single file.
The front group numbers about 40 now.
The lead group is about to hit the descent of Rownham Hill.
Cummings has made the front group and immediately draws the sting out of the pace.
So we have a group ahead and this looks like it'll stick for a while.
The group consists of Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) and Diego Rubio (Caja Rural).
Our quartet is now working well together.
There's a One Pro Cycling rider trying to catch the leaders. He's 18 seconds behind.
Team Sky come to the front of the peloton.
The One Pro Cycling rider chasing the lead is Karol Domagalski.
Greipel leads the peloton up the Bridge Valley Road climb.
It's 50 seconds back to Domagalski, the lone chaser. He's not going to make it. The front group are working too well.
We're onto the lone intermediate sprint lap of the course. Jasper Bovenhuis the current jersey leader has nothing to worry about.
Mark Cavendish is now working on the front of the Di-Data led peloton.
Orica Bike Exchange are also contributing to the chase; an indication perhaps that they fancy Caleb Ewan on this finish.
Domagalski calls it quits and drifts back to the peloton.
Orica, Sky and Dimension Data are contributing men to the chase. As that Sky rider is Viviani, the British team could be favouring Van Poppel or Swift. Which one remains to be seen.
Viviani's sweated this race out after he crashed hard on the opening stage into Castle Douglas.
As the lead hovers around a minute, we're treated to impressive aerial shots of Bristol.
A Lotto Soudal car passes the peloton to go up to service Greipel.
The leaders just start the third ascent of Bridge Valley Road.
Lots of roadside support for Cavendish as he leads the peloton up the hill into Clifton.
The leaders come under the Flamme Rouge.
Greipel leads the riders over the line and takes the points in the intermediate sprint and narrows the gap to Bovenhuis to six points. There are nine points up for grabs tomorrow so numerically Bovenhuis's jersey is still under threat.
We're now more than halfway through the race.
Away from the race there's turbulence in the WorldTour. With 18 teams chasing 17 WorldTour licences, someone's going to loose out. The sitting duck at the moment is Dimension Data who are at the bottom of the WorldTour points table. Daniel Benson spoke to Brian Smith who was general manager of the team for a while and he said he'd be devastated if Dimension Data lost their place at the top table.
"“The goal for Team Dimension Data was to get into the top 15 WorldTour teams. They’re sitting 18th the last time I looked and that’s not comfortable," he said. “It’s important to have a South African team in the WorldTour. I don’t know what the UCI are going to do but they could keep it at 18 teams,” he argued.
You can read the full story here.
Meanwhile Cavendish works on the front of the peloton. The gap to the leading quartet is a solid 1:10.
Scratch that - 1:20 in fact.
Cavendish is still chugging away on the front of the peloton, swapping turns with Etixx's Lukasz Wisniowski.
The gap drops to just under a minute as Sky return to the front of the peloton.
The peloton just pass through the finish and we're down to two laps to go.
The gap has fallen by another 10 seconds to 49 with 28.2km to go.
So casting forward to the finish. The top of the Bridge Valley Road comes with 2km remaining. That means there's a slim chance of pure sprinters being towed back on if they're dropped. It'll suit the punchier men like Ben Swift perhaps.
The gap is now a steady 55 seconds.
Of course the Bridge Valley Road climb could be a springboard for someone like Tony Gallopin to get away.
Greipel squeezes on again the gap goes out to 1:15. Izaguirre takes over pace setting on the climb.
Meanwhile a delegation of three Cannondale riders scythe their way up to the front of the peloton.
Mark Cavendish is spent and drops out the peloton. his work for Cummings is done.
Nicola Boem of Bardiani attacks out of the peloton on the climb.
The peloton push a bit harder and the gap is 1:00 dead at the line. One lap left.
Boem is at 45 seconds on the leaders.
The peloton are right behind him.
there's a real urgency in the leaders as Rubio takes over from Greipel.
The gap has dropped to 45 seconds with 12.5km remaining
Greipel who has been pulling the hardest attacks on his own
Van Poppel pursues and closes the gap on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Now Izaguirre of Movistar attacks and he gets a gap. Van Poppel chases again.
The leaders are all back together.
Etixx-QuickStep's Lukasz Wisniowski leads the bunch down the descent. we're inside 10km to go.
Stannard, who folds himself over into an aero tuck comes to the front for Sky and the gap is just above 30 seconds.
This will probably all come back together before the climb.
Orica Bike Exchange's young recruit Rob Power strings out the peloton on the long flat section.
Just 12 seconds between gap and group.
just 6km to go and Greipel attacks through the chicanes at the far end of the course.
Greipel and Izaguirre are reclaimed by the peloton.
Van Poppel and Rubio press on
Riders fight for the best position at the head of the peloton as they arrive at the foot of the climb. 4km to go.
Stannard leads the peloton now which has claimed all the breakaway men. It hits the climb.
Debusschere leads the peloton up the climb. He's trying to set up Gallopin.
Dumouolin takes over and looks over his shoulder and sees Dennis make an attack.
Dennis had a good gap over the top
Dennis is going to take this
there's still 1km to go and Steve Cummings is chasing Dennis.
Cummings is trying to come across and he's solo.
Dennis has got it though and the gap and time bonuses take him up to second on GC.
That's a good win for Dennis. Cummings was safely in the chasing group. There's been a slight cut to his GC lead - it's 32 seconds now, but that's nothing to worry about.
Slight correction to the time gap between Cummings and Denis - it's actually 26 seconds.
That's Dennis third win of the year, after the Australian TT championship and the Folsom TT at the Tour of California.
Talking after the race, Dennis said that he didn't expect an opportunity to take any more time on Cummings but would have to be wary of the threat to his second place on GC tomorrow in the circuit race in central London.
Here's the stage top 10:
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 2:58:42
2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:06
3 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
4 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
5 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-BikeExchange
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
9 Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
10 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
Wanty-Groupe Gobert's Xandro Meurisse wins this year's KoM jersey which he's held since stage 2.
And the top 10 on GC:
1 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data 29:21:21
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:26
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:38
4 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:01:02
5 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:21
6 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:01:26
7 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:01:48
8 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:52
9 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:02:12
10 Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:32
Join us tomorrow for the now traditional finale in the City of Westminster in London. It's 16 laps of a 6.2km circuit and the action starts at 14:30.
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