Commonwealth Games time trial champion Cameron Meyer took victory in Stage Two of the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain after sprinting to win from a day-long breakaway in Barnstaple, Devon on Monday.
The Australian rider, who last claimed a road race victory in February 2015, beat breakaway companion Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) after the pair had been a part of the stage’s five-man escape group that went clear in the opening 15 kilometres following the start at Cranbrook, one of England’s newest towns.
However Tonelli’s six-second time bonus on the line plus, his slender advantage over a strong chasing group containing the likes of Wout Poels (Team Sky), Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Quick-Step Floors duo Julian Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels just behind means he moves into the OVO Energy Green Jersey of race leader.
“It was always going to be close,” said Meyer of the thrilling finale. “I heard that the gap was one minute with 10 kilometres to go, and that there was a strong group of favourites coming fast from behind, so I wanted to push on. It’s been a few years since I rode in this race, but I remember getting caught twice inside final kilometre. I didn’t want déjà vu to happen again.
“I was pretty confident that with my track background that I could negotiate a sprint against whoever I had to go up against. Coming into the finish, I got the Italian [Tonelli] to go up to the 500m to go mark – I knew I had him covered from there.”
Despite sitting level on time with Tonelli in the OVO Energy Green Jersey classification, Meyer played down his chances of claiming overall victory in London on Sunday.
He added: “The favourites’ group are within seconds on GC, and I’m not going to be able to go up the climbs as fast as them. I’ve ticked off a major accomplishment – to get my win for the season on the road – so that’s fantastic. I can’t see me wearing the leader’s jersey at the end of week.”
Italian Tonelli, whose sole professional victory to date came in this year’s Tour of Croatia, spoke of his joy at claiming the OVO Energy Green Jersey.
“I went in the breakaway and that was my job for today – the jersey is a special prize,” he said. “I pushed hard in the final kilometres as my DS told me that I could get the Green Jersey – and here I am.
“When we arrived at the top of the last climb and we had a minute gap, Cam Meyer and I pushed hard to get to the finish. It was close – the other riders were coming quickly behind us!”
Those other riders contained a fine mixture of top names, including Roglic, Alaphilippe, Jungels and Poels, who all now sit 12 seconds off the lead. Top Brit and recipient of the Adnams Best British Rider Award in front of huge crowds in Barnstaple was Hugh Carthy of Team EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale.
The Lancastrian is 10th overall, three seconds ahead of British trio Scott Davies, Scott Thwaites (Team Dimension Data) and Ethan Hayter (Great Britain cycling team), with Davies also holding the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey and winning the HIGH5 Combativity Award for Stage Two after also being a part of the race-winning breakaway.
Fellow escapee Matthew Teggart (Team WIGGINS) takes over the Eisberg Sprints Jersey while Meyer moves into the lead of the Wahoo Points Jersey.