TOUR OF BRITAIN STAGE FOUR: WILLEMS TAKES SHORT CUT TO VICTORY
Frederik Willems of the Chocolade Jacques team won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain in Birmingham on Friday after taking a short cut through the final roundabout.
The Belgian rider was clear with Paul Manning (Landbouwkrediet) but when Manning followed the lead car round the outside of the roundabout, Willems cut across and sprinted to the line.
Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) copied Willems’ trick but just failed to catch him at the line and finished second, two seconds down. Manning was a disappointed third at six seconds.
All three were part of an eight-rider break that went clear after six miles of the 81-mile stage. Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) and Cameron Jennings (DFL) was also in the move but missed the final attack that went clear two miles out.
Denmark’s Marin Pedersen (CSC) finished in the main bunch, 5-20 behind Willems, but retained his 51-second lead on Spain’s Luis Pasamontes (Unibet.com).
Willems won the overall classification in the early season Etoile de Besseges in southern France and this was his third career win.
“I took the best line, if the road isn’t closed you can cut across,” Willems said.
Paul Manning didn’t agree but the race commissaire gave the win to Willems.
“That cost me a chance of sprinting for the win and so I’m fuming,” he said.
“I followed the lead car round the roundabout like we’d done all stage. There were no barriers and so Willems decided to cut across. I blame the organisers. It should have been blocked off.”
Race organiser Michael Bennett said he had no comment to make about the incident.
Saturday’s 94-mile fifth stage from Rochester to Canterbury in the southeast will be the last chance for Pasamontes to try and snatch overall victory from Pedersen before Sunday’s final parade stage to the centre of London.