Jean Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing) won the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday from a four-man lead group, with British hope Ben Swift (Team Sky) placing third.
Luxembourger Drucker out-paced Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Swift to take the victory on a bright sunny day in the capital. Swift – second last year – put in a strong performance throughout the 200km hilly race given that this was his first race back after shoulder surgery and a three-month period of recovery.
The day’s escape consisted of local man Erick Rowsell (Madison-Genesis), fellow British rider Peter Williams (One Pro Cycling), Belgians Lander Seynaeve (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen), and Italian Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo Vini Fantini).
Behind, the peloton was being paced by the Sky and Etixx-QuickStep teams – despite the latter being down to five men after Mark Renshaw was a non-starter.
By the time the break hit Dorking for the first time with 113km to go, they had two minutes over the chasing bunch. Luck was not on Williams’s side, and he suffered three punctures and a mechanical issue with his chain. Each time he had to make a concerted effort to regain contact with the break.
Floris Gerts (BMC) attacked from the peloton in an attempt to bridge over to the escape, which had lost Seynaeve and was down to four men. Gerts made the junction with 78km to go to take the break back up to five men.
On the last of three passes over Ranmore Common, attacks started to come out of the peloton. By the foot of the final climb of the day – Box Hill – two chasing riders had joined the five up front, but the group only had 15 seconds over the rapidly accelerating peloton.
Philippe Gilbert and Rohan Dennis (BMC) took off from the front of the bunch before the first hairpin on Box Hill, causing the peloton to split and signalling the end of the break. A large lead group then formed after the climb, with a half-minute gap over the chasing bunch.
Despite the size of the lead group, they were quickly caught. Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Dennis then briefly attacked, but were reeled in. A break of eight then developed, comprising Ben Swift (Team Sky), Sep Vanmarcke, Mike Teunissen (both LottoNL-Jumbo), Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka), Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), Jean Pierre Drucker (BMC) and Kenneth Van Rooy (Lotto-Soudal).
With the major WorldTour teams represented up front, the impetus went out of the chase behind them and the gap quickly opened up to over a minute, then two minutes as the eight escapees worked well together.
Swift was the first to attack with 15km to go, but was reeled in. Then Vanmarcke launched himself up the road as the chasers started playing cat-and-mouse. With 10km to go, Vanmarcke was 16 seconds ahead and he continued to power on but was inevitably going to lose out to the chasers’ combined effort.
Teunissen, Drucker and Swift caught Vanmarcke with 1.5km to go, but Swift found himself in front of the lead four as they reached The Mall for the finish and couldn’t come around Drucker and Teunissen, having to settle for third.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic 2015, 200km
1. Jean Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing
2. Mike Teunissen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
4. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
6. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
8. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Etix-QuickStep
9. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
King of the Mountains: Erick Rowsell (Madison-Genesis)
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