Jack Bauer credited his victory in the Tour of Britain to his agonising defeat in the Tour de France two years ago, in which he was caught on the line with metres to go after spending the day in the breakaway.
Here on stage five of the British Tour at the finish in the sunshine in Bath, the roles were reversed as Bauer survived the day’s breakaway and held off a rampaging peloton by just 10 metres to take the victory.
The New Zealander escaped with four other riders after the stage start in Aberdare and held a 17-second gap going into the final one kilometre. The seconds quickly began tumbling as the sprinters’ teams sensed their prey, and though the metres were too ticking down it appeared as if Bauer was going to suffer déjà vu on the line.
Yet unlike in Nimes on stage 15 of the Tour in 2014, Bauer timed his sprint to perfection to take the win.
“I learnt a lot from that day two years ago, in that if you’re in an opportunity to win you lay it all on the line to win you don’t consider… coming second isn’t in an option in a scenario like that and that’s what I had in my mind today,” the delighted Cannondale-Drapac rider said at the finish.
“I didn’t even think about what the bunch was doing, I was just concentrating really hard on watching [breakaway companions] [Amael] Moinard and I think [Javier] Moreno from Movistar as they kept on hitting in the finale.”
He continued: “I only get a couple of chances in the year to do that and from my experiences over the last year or two you learn to be a bit cooler in the situation and just keep a clear mine and remember what’s at stake.
Bauer has had a difficult 18 months after he crashed at the Tour de France last year and broke his left femur. He spent six months off the bike recovering and returned to racing at the Volta a Catalunya in February this year, but crashed and broke his wrist forcing him out for another month. He suffered from sickness during the middle of the season and missed the Tour de France and selection for the Olympic Games.
“I’m very, very happy,” the 31-year-old said. “When you can’t move and you can’t cycle and you can’t do your daily job for a good amount of time and then you start to get back into it you realise how much you take for granted.
“I really appreciate what I have and the opportunity I have. I tried to make a real go of it this year – but this really caps off a difficult season.”
Bauer started his professional career racing in the UK and spent two years with Endura Racing, before joining Garmin-Sharp in 2012. He confirmed he’s leaving Cannondale-Drapac at the end of the year, after five seasons with the squad, and said his new team for 2017 would be announced in a few weeks.