Ben Swift (Katusha) won his first race as a professional and given Britain its first win in the 2009 Tour of Britain in Yeovil on Friday.
Italy’s Filippo Pozzato guided his young team mate through the snaking final 500 metres and then Swift accelerated to the line. The two were so far ahead that Pozzato held on for second and joined in the victory celebrations.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) finished third a few lengths back and extended his overall race lead to 23 seconds before Saturday’s final stage in London.
The 159km stage from Devon to Somerset was perhaps the best of the whole race, with important attacks going away several times.
British national champion Kristian House (Rapha-Condor) showed of his jersey in a long break with Stian Remme (Joker-Bianchi). They opened a five minute lead but were pulled back just before the nasty climb of Chinnock Hollow five kilometres from the finish.
Several other late attacks were made before the finish but Pozzato was riding for Swift and used all his strength to help his team mate. Pozzato accelerated off the front to make sure he and Swift were first into the last corner. They brushed the barriers on the two 90 degrees left hand turns but a crash helped them get a gap on the rest of the bunch and both celebrated as they crossed the line.
When they came to a stop Pozzato slapped Swift on the back and was as happy as if he’d won himself.
“It’s great he’s won his first race. I’m really happy for him and was happy to help him win. He’s a great person and is going to be a great rider. He’s got balls,” Pozzato told Cycling Weekly.
Swift could hardly believe he’d won his first race as a professional and that he’d done it in his home stage race. “It’s great to win my first race. Pozzato was looking after me all day and knew he was looking after me at the finish. I’ve done a lot of races with him and always tried to help him but I think he’s helped me more than I’ve helped him. For a neo-pro to get that help it’s pretty special.”
“There was a bit of a crash in the first corner, then we opened up a gap. We went a bit too quick into the second one and we both skidded down barriers. Then I came around Pozzato with 150 to go.”
“The team’s rode for me a lot this season quite a few times but I’d never quite finished it off. To pull it off in Britain is special.”
The Tour of Britain ends on Saturday with a 92km circuit race around the centre of London. Boasson Hagen looks to have the race sewn up but the final sprint along the Thames Embankment is a different matter.
Tour of Britain 2009: Stage seven, Hatherleigh-Yeovil, 159.7km
1. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha in 3-52-19
2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-HTC
4. Mauro Finetto (Ita) CSF Navigare
5. Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Navigare
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld
7. Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank
8. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin-Slipstream
9. Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport-Vlaanderen
10. Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin-Slipstream all same time.
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-HTC in 26-09-32
2. Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank at 23sec
3. Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo at 25sec
4. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin-Slipstream at 28sec
5. Russell Downing (GB) CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta at 37sec
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 40sec
7. Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel at 43sec
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-Neri at 44sec
9. Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil at 46sec
10. Kristian House (GB) Rapha-Condor at 46sec
British national champ Kristian House (right) and Stian Remme on the escape
Columbia-HTC take control
Swift and team-mate Pozzato celebrate Swft’s win
Tour of Britain 2009: Related links
Brits set the pace during stage six
Wilkinson battered after stage four
Wiggins quits ToB to focus on TT World Champs
Downing in the mix after magical adjustment
Lapthorne goes on the attack and into the spotlight
Tour of Britain goes mad for Wiggins
Downing aiming high in Tour of Britain
Can a British rider win the Tour of Britain?
British pros head home to fight for Worlds places
Halfords hit the Tour of Britain
Rapha-Condor names Tour of Britain squad
Cavendish to miss Tour of Britain
Katusha and Rabobank announce Tour of Britain teams
Tour of Britain and Tour Series on ITV4
Tour of Britain 2009 route unveiled
Stage six: Boasson Hagen makes it four
Stage five: Boasson Hagen takes control
Stage four: Boasson Hagen makes it two
Stage three: Hagen does it again
Stage two: Dutchman Reus wins second stage at Tour of Britain
Stage one: Sutton wins opening stage of ToB
Guide and info
Tour of Britain 2009: Start list
Tour of Britain official website