Dowsett struggled badly to defend his yellow jersey in long, demanding Tour of Britain stage seven. Briton from Movistar now 10th overall before TT after splendid teamwork; Ion Izagirre stays 20" off GC podium
Picture (c): British Cycling
He gave everything, as well himself as his team-mates, but as he himself conceded right after the stage, there was very little energy left on the legs of Alex Dowsett after a tremendous effort made yesterday to move into the overall lead of the Tour of Britain. It was a day’s dream for the Essex rider from the Movistar Team, with the 225km stage seven from Camberley to Brighton -including two difficult climbs, Ditchling Beacon and Bear Road (both Cat-1), in the last thirty minutes of racing- ending his hopes of success.
The telephone squad had to face a strong opposition -as did Bardiani, Tinkoff, Sky or BMC, also at the front of the bunch- in a five-rider breakaway that reached 10 minutes of advantage with 90 kilometers left, and from which Julien Vermote (OPQ) jumped away in the first of the two ascents to claim a solo stage win. Behind, self-conscious about his short chances, Dowsett ordered Ion Izagirre to keep pushing ahead in search for his own GC options and digged deep from halfway through Ditchling, always helped out by an exceptional Giovanni Visconti -no more remarkable than exceptional Sanz, Lastras and Szmyd from the beginning of the day-, pacing him up the climbs and taking him to 25″ on the foot of the last, killing slopes, after trailing by 40″ on top of the first.
Dowsett would end up conceding more than 1′ over the favourites, though the leader’s jersey went onto the shoulders of Dylan Van Baarle (GRS), 3rd over the line after also making part of the break. In turn, Izagirre -12th for the stage- is now sixth, 20″ off the podium, and will contest GC honours together with Dowsett in the 9km time trial in London tomorrow morning, the opening leg of the final double sector.
Alex Dowsett (thanks to Cycling Weekly): “I thought I woke up feeling pretty fresh, but as soon as we hit those climbs, I knew I was suffering. I got as much food down my neck as I could, and looked after myself as best as I could. With the finish being as hard as it was, we knew we needed a back-up plan. We didn’t want to use Giovanni [Visconti] or [Ion] Izaguirre to work, because they were still up there on GC. But the gap to the break went out so much, and the other teams said if we didn’t put one more guy up there, they wouldn’t help. Visco had to do a lot of work late on, he tried to help me save it [the jersey]. It’s been a good week. Hopefully I’ll have a good time trial [in London] tomorrow. It’s better to have worn yellow for a day than given up on the GC after day three. It’s been a nice race – Mick Bennett has produced one of the best Tour of Britains yet.”