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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Tour of Britain Cycling News for September 3, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, with reporting by Shane Stokes

Nuyens faces important test

Race leader Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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Tour of Britain race leader Nick Nuyens heads into today's race against the clock with a seven second buffer, but knows that a strong performance is crucial. "The time trial will be very important," he said. "We have to make some decisions before it. The circuit is very technical, so maybe it is better go with a normal bike. I don't know. We will see tomorrow. I will try my best but if Michael [Rogers] wins, that is okay too. And if I keep the jersey it is even better! The main goal is to win the jersey. If we can win the stage, it is even better for the team.

"My main goal coming here was to take a stage. I wanted to win again. After I took the first stage I thought that there was a good chance to keep the jersey for a while. Now I want to win the general classification and also the time trial, if it is possible. But it is not that easy, we will see."

If Nuyens is still in yellow this evening, he will just have the concluding criterium on Sunday to get through. A change to the overall classification is unlikely there, but he is still cautious. "If I have the yellow jersey after the time trial, I will still not be assured of victory," he said. "You can never be sure until it is over. But if I can take some more time tomorrow, it looks very good for my chances because Blaudzun is not that fast on the type of circuit we will use on Sunday. That said, you can never be sure until the final kilometres of the race."

Oliphant happy with second on stage

Scotland rider Evan Oliphant was one of the four riders involved in the breakaway yesterday and ended up second on the stage. The result was a mixture of satisfaction and frustration for him, the 23 year old taking the best result of his career but just missing out on the chance to win a stage of the 2.1 ranked Tour of Britain.

"I won a race in the British Premier calendar a couple of months back, the East Yorkshire Classic. But today's result is my biggest by miles," he said at the finish.

Oliphant normally rides with breakaway companion Paul Manning's Recycling.co.uk team. With the two of them making it into the four man break, they were always likely to help each other out against Sergei Ivanov (T-Mobile) and Kazuo Inoue (Bridgestone Anchor).

"We had a little bit of discussion with 20 kilometres to go and one-twoed it a little bit," Oliphant said. "I don't think the other two guys knew it at first. They sort of looked at me when Paul went but I was never going to chase him and he wasn't going to chase me. I went after he was brought back and was clear for a couple of kilometres, but they caught me. Then Paul went again, but they were onto him straight away."

Serguei Ivanov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

"Everyone was just tapping through at the end, watching each other. Paul said that it was going to be a sprint and he would do what he could to help me. Ivanov got the inside line on the bend so I had to go around both of them. I would say that I was probably going faster at the end but had a gap on me at that point so I couldn't get back to him."

Oliphant and the rest of the break finished 10 minutes and 6 seconds ahead of the bunch, moving the Scot up to 34th overall and second in the bonus sprint classification. He's had a mixed Tour of Britain so far, riding well but also hitting the deck. "I crashed on the second day coming into Blackpool. I was on Mark Cavendish's wheel on the last bend but went down. So I have been a bit sore. Normally I am a good galloper so I knew I had a chance today, but I have not done much racing against the big boys."

Oliphant is not expecting to make the Great Britain team for the world championships, so his next target is the final round of the Premier calendar next week. After that, he will aim to ride strongly in the Commonwealth Games next month.

Downing downed on stage 4

Russell Downing (Recycling.co.uk)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

British road race champion Russell Downing was one of several fallers on yesterday's stage. The Recycling.co.uk rider hit the deck early on but was able to remount and get back to the peloton. "Someone just come across me," he told Cyclingnews after the stage. "I was in line on the inside and someone pulled him on top of me. The kerbs just came out a bit and I think he swung into the bunch. He clipped my handlebars and that forced me into a speed wobble. I was banging on the kerb, staying upright, and then the kerbs disappeared and I went down."

"It was just before the first climb. The doctor was cleaning me up and then I got back onto the back of the team cars at the bottom of the climb. So I just climbed it in the convoy, holding on to my position, and then got back on over the top."

Downing had cuts and scrapes on his left arm and leg, and so was glad that the day wasn't too hectic. "The rest of the stage was controlled, we had a guy up the road so that was fine. It was good to be able to ride in the bunch, I wanted to just keep the legs moving because I was a bit stiff."

"I didn't feel too bad but then coming near the end I thought I'd get involved in the sprint. But I was a bit nervous...crashing earlier in the stage obviously affected my nerves a bit so I decided to back off and save it for the last day. I am not a brilliant time trialist for tomorrow's stage, so I will make an effort but I won't be winning. Sunday will be a better stage for me."

When asked how he would fare against some of the big European sprinters in the race, Downing was hopeful he could do something. "It is all on positioning, that is the thing. If you get the right position, you never know. We will see how it goes."

Also in the wars was compatriot Jeremy Hunt. The MrBookmaker.com rider hit a bump on a fast decent and his handlebars snapped, sending him to the ground. He suffered cuts to the face, arm and finger and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. However, Hunt was released and although his race is over, he was able to join his team-mates for dinner yesterday evening. He had been lying second overall in the points competition and was understandably disappointed to be out of the Tour of Britain. "I can't believe I crashed out of my home race," he said.

Winn sure of mountains prize

Welsh rider Julian Winn is, barring illness or accident, certain to take the mountains jersey in London tomorrow. Although he was not in yesterday's break, the four riders in front mopped up all the available points, thus preserving his six point advantage over South African road race champion and Tour de Langkawi winner Ryan Cox (Barloworld Valsir).

With today's stage being a flat time trial and tomorrow's a circuit race in Whitehall, there are no more KOH points up for grabs. So, providing he finishes safely, Winn will add the Tour of Britain KOH title to those he won in the FBD Milk Rás, the Tour of Rhodes, the Commonwealth Bank classic and the Tour of Guadeloupe. He was due to retire shortly after this year's race and take up a coaching position with the Welsh cycling federation, but will now continue until the Commonwealth Games in March 2006.

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