Was it you? Was it me? The quizzical looks Jake Stewart (Great Britain) and Cees Bol (Team DSM) gave each other as they flew across the finish line of the Tour of Britain's stage two in Duns, Scotland, suggested only a photo finish could decide the result. In the end the camera gave the win to the Dutch rider by the smallest of margins.
The finish of the 175km stage, which began in Hawick, came down to a big bunch sprint against all the odds, having spent the final 30km exploding left, right and centre over a triple whammy of classified climbs.
Led out by Sam Watson, Stewart hit the front first and looked as though he might hold on for the win, but Bol finished faster and edged it by millimetres.
With GC leader Corbin Strong (Israel-PremierTech) finishing third, there is little change at the top of the overall, with the New Zealander holding on to his lead.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The theme of the day was set within two kilometres of the start, with a break of six riders easing their way clear of the bunch. It was, to some extent at least, a family affair, with Harry and Charlie Tanfield both clearly visible in their sky-blue Ribble-Weldtite kit. They were accompanied by Lewis Adam (Saint Piran), Matthew Teggart (Wiv-Sungod), Ukko Peltonen (Global 6 Cycling) and Travis Stedman (Team Qhubeka).
The sextet seemed to be all-in, working well to steadily building a healthy gap which eventually stabilised around the 4.30 mark. Along the way Teggart sought to shore up his lead in the sprints competition, picking up all three sprints along the way without a huge amount of competition.
It wasn’t until less than 60km to go that the bunch set about making the inevitable catch, with the most prominent of those chasing at the front being from Ineos Grenadiers.
Most of the break’s advantage had been wiped out within 20km and as the race approached Wanside Rigg, the first of a triple whammy of classified climbs, Teggart and Adam attacked out of the break, the remains of which promptly imploded. The pair held off with the bunch bearing down on them, and despite a valiant effort by mountains leader Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health), who sprinted across to duke it out for the mountains points, Teggart managed to hold on and grab the points before finally and definitively being reeled in by Ineos Grenadier's Magnus Sheffield and Tom Pidcock.
The race was over the next climb of Mainslaughter Law less than 10km later, with Jacob Scott (Wiv-Sungod) taking the points and Bardiani-CSF's Davide Gaburro attacking hard over the top. It was a concerted and dangerous looking effort by the Italian, who had built a gap of 26 seconds in just a handful of kilometres.
However, a hard chase by Ineos behind — and specifically by Richie Porte — brought Gaburro back before the summit of the final climb of Hardens Hill. Scott, who won the ToB climber's jersey in 2019 and 2021, made his intentions clear, again taking the points over Hardens.
With only five kilometres remaining, a flurry of attacks came from the bunch but ultimately came to nothing, Team DSM hitting the front en masse going into the final with only Great Britain's Watson and Stewart able to challenge.
RESULTS: TOUR OF BRITAIN 2022, STAGE TWO HAWICK TO DUNS (175.2KM)
1. Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM in 4-08-35
2. Jake Stewart (GBr) Great Britain
3. Corbin Strong (NZl) Israel-PremierTech
4. Stanisław Aniołkowski (Pol) Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB
5. Luke Lamperti (USA) Trinity Racing
6. Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
8. Eduardo Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Jim Brown (GBr) Wiv-Sungod
10. Martin Marcellusi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1. Corbin Strong (NZl) Israel-PremierTech in 8-44-58
2. Jake Stewart (GBr) Great Britain
3. Omar Fraile (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
4. Anders Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno X Pro Cycling
5. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
6. Gonzalo Serrano (Spa) Movistar
7. Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Felix Grosschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Eduardo Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros
10. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
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