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Tour of Britain 2018: Stage 1

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 Hello and welcome to stage one of the 2018 Tour of Britain. The first stage runs 174.8km through South Wales from the grand depart in Pembrey County Park to Newport. With a lumpy profile including a second category hill in the final 10km it could be a day from the break, a late attack, or a reduced sprint.

Team Sky start the race with the starriest lineup of all, boasting four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and reigning Tour champion Geraint Thomas. It's the first time Froome has raced here in 9 years, while Thomas returns after finishing seventh last year. Read what they had to say at the pre-race press conference here.

And they're off! With Team Sky leading the peloton in the neutralised zone.

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Matthew Bostock (Great Britain), Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), Mark Downey (Wiggins), Thomas Moses (JLT-Condor), Rory Townsend (Canyon-Eisberg), Richard Handley (Madison-Genesis) are in the break. With the peloton happy about the makeup of the group, this should be the break of the day.

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One Pro Cycling, who boast 2015 king of the mountains Peter Williams, are the only British domestic team to miss the break. Team boss Matt Pryor yesterday announced that the team is disbanding at the end of this season, with a move to women's cycling on the cards next year.

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The next obstacle on course, coming in around 25km, is the second category climb of Bethlehem Hill. It's a short one, measuring 1.8km with an average of 3%, and shouldn't cause any problems in the break or peloton.

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EF-Drapac will be interested in delivering Dan McLay or Sacha Modolo should it come down to a sprint today. Quick Step Floors have Fernando Gaviria, while Mitchelton-Scott will be hoping Caleb Ewan can nab a few wins before he leaves for Lotto-Soudal next year.

And there's a wealth of options in terms of the overall GC too. Thomas and Froome said yesterday they haven't fully recovered from the Tour de France yet, but 2015 runner-up Wout Poels can certainly go one better this year.

 

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After the climb of Bethlehem Hill, the break is now 2:40 up the road. 13km lie between them and the next sprint point in Llandovery, and then the road rears upwards for an unclassified climb on the way to the cat two Defynogg climb after 89km.

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The full result of the first climb of the race is now confirmed. Dlamini and Moses took 5 and 4 points respectively. Meanwhile, 3, 2 and 1 went to Townsend, Downey and Bostock.

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We haven’t seen a British Continental team win a stage of the Tour of Britain since the race was resurrected back in 2004. Endura Racing rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke did win the overall back in 2012, though that result was later stripped after the Brit was banned due to anomalies in his biological passport.

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After the first two sprints of the 2018 Tour of Britain, the red jersey standings are as follows (my calculations):

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The result of the second KOM was Dlamini ahead of Handley, Moses, Townsend and Bostock.

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The breakaway reaches the feed zone and a welcome lunch break after 100km of racing so far.

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There's not much of a chance for the break to stay away today, but at least they're all still together. With no major climbs until Belmont Hill in almost 60km, there was no real incentive to split things up over the top of Defynnog or on the descent.

The latest Cyclingnews Podcast is out, and features Vuelta analysis, talk about Mark Cavendish's future, and a discussion about the demise of Aqua Blue Sport. Click here to have a listen.

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There's a lull in the action as the break navigate the narrow hedge-lined roads of the Welsh countryside, some 56km from the finish. Here's a look at some of the names who could be in the mix at the finish today.

A brief discussion between Keisse and Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) at the front of the peloton as the teams share the work. The gap is still edging down, now at 1:05 with 55km to run.

Geraint Thomas isn't the only Welshman to be racing in his home country today.

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And now the majority of the EF-Drapac team move up to the front. They have a pair of sprinters here, in the shape of Dan McLay and Sacha Modolo.

With 20km to go until Belmont Hill – the final climb of the day – here's an in-depth look at the finale from Lasterketa Burua. There are some tough ramps there, and potential to shed a few sprinters or launch attacks in a bid to thwart them altogether.

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Iljo Keisse is still on the front for Quick Step Floors. A great ride from the Belgian, who has been there for the majority of the day. The pace is quickening too, with the gap down to 40 seconds now.

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The final intermediate sprint standings on stage 1:

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Townsend should pick up the combativity award today, though his chances of staying away to the end are still almost non-existent.

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Team Sky, EF-Drapac and One Pro Cycling are among the teams at the head of the peloton.

Bardiani-CSF are also moving up, riding for sprinter Andrea Guardini. He wouldn't be my first pick of the sprinters to survive over Belmont Hill, though.

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All around the roundabout with no problems.

Lotto-Soudal move up.

Gaviria goes very long!

Ewan passes him, Greipel comes through the centre!

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) wins stage 1 of the 2018 Tour of Britain!

Gaviria launched super early and simply ran out of gas. First Caleb Ewan nipped past in his super-aero tuck, but the big German just had too much power. An interesting battle indeed, considering Ewan is replacing Greipel at Lotto-Soudal next year.

It's the 154th win of Greipel's career, and one in the eye for his replacement. The German takes the green race leader's jersey as well as the lead in the dark blue points jersey, which Ewan will wear tomorrow.

Stage 1 result:

André Greipel speaks after his win:

As stated before, Greipel takes the overall leader's green jersey, in addition to the dark blue points jersey.

As expected, none of the men in the break made it to the finish with the peloton, so the bonus seconds have no bearing on the general classification.

Greipel may be in the race lead now, but if he wants to hold on to it tomorrow he'll have a very tough task on his hands. 

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