Ian Stannard came within a whisker of taking the overall lead in the Thüringen-Rundfarht race in Germany today. The Olympic Academy rider had escaped from the lead group in the closing stages but his attack was reeled in just 200m from the finish line.
Stannard eventually finished eighth on the third stage, and moved up to second overall, eight seconds behind race leader Jörg Lehmann of Germany.
The British rider joined the final selection of nine riders with just eight kilometres to go after some excellent work by his team mate Ben Swift. He then attacked the lead group on the hilly run in to the finish, but was caught just before the line.
Going in to today?s stage Stannard was just five seconds down on the leader (the top ten riders were separated by just 23 seconds) and with time bonuses on offer, he came agonisingly close to pulling on the leaders jersey. Instead the British rider was swamped by the lead group, finishing eighth, in the same time as stage winner Thomas de Gendt of Belgium.
Both Stannard and Swift made the decisive break of around 35 riders when the group formed with 80 kilometres of the stage remaining, but when nine of them rode clear both the Brits missed it.
Academy coach Rod Ellingworth put Ben Swift on the front of the group, and on his own he halved a 40 second gap in just a few kilometres. Stannard then jumped straight across to the leading group of nine taking two other riders with him.
With two stages remaining, Stannard is in a strong position to challenge for the overall lead, despite losing team mate Andy Tennant through illness.
Tomorrow?s stage covers 130 kilometres from Bad Sazungen to Schönbrunn.
THÜRINGEN ? RUNDFAHRT; STAGE THREE, BEHRINGEN ? BAD SALZUNGEN
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) DAVO Belgique 167.4km in 4-14-47
2 Nico Graf (Ger) Thüringer Energie
3 Salvatore Mancuso (Ita) Italian National team
4 Tony Gallopin (Fra) French National team
5 Jörg Lehmann (Ger) LKT Brandenburg
6 Marcel Wyss (Swi) Swiss National team
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank
8 Ian Stannard (GBr) British National team all st
9 Blel Kadri (Fra) French National team at 3sec
10 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) KED-Bianchi at 4sec
14 Ben Swift (GBr) British National team at 19sec
77 Russell Hampton (GBr) British National team at 5.31min
83 Robert Partridge (GBr) British National team at 8.57min
85 Jonathan Bellis (GBr) British National team at st
1 Jörg Lehman (Ger) LKT Team Brandenburg 8-20-06
2 Ian Stannard (GBr) British National team at 8sec
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) French National Team at 25sec
4 Sebastian Hans (Ger) Akud Rose at 25sec
5 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) KED-Bianchi at 27sec
6 Christian Kux (Ger) Milram at 27sec
7 Matthias Belka (Ger) LKT Team Brandenburg at 43sec
8 Paul Voß (Ger) 3C-Gruppe Lamonta at 53sec
9 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Kazakhstan National team at 53sec
10 Tony Martin (Ger) Thüringer Energie Team at 55sec
20 Ben Swift (GBr) British National team at 1.12sec
65 Russell Hampton (GBr) British National team at 6.26min
78 Robert Partridge (GBr) British National team at 10.03min
80 Jonathan Bellis (GBr) British National team at 10.23min