The German beat Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria to the finish in Newport

André Greipel won the first stage of the 2018 Tour of Britain, beating Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) to the line in Newport.

The Lotto-Soudal rider timed his effort perfectly, countering an early sprint from Gaviria who faded well before the line, and beating Ewan by a wheel after the Australian had also made a late surge.

The sprint was far from nailed on in the closing 10km, with Bob Jungels (Quick-Step) caught 1km from the line having broken clear from a four-man group that got away on the final climb of Belmont Hill with 7.8km to go.

After his sprint win, Greipel takes the overall lead of the race after the opening stage, with another potential sprint on stage two to Barnstaple.

How it happened

Bright sunshine greeted the riders on the opening day of the 2018 Tour of Britain, and it didn’t take long for a breakaway to go clear on the opening 175km stage from Pembrey Country Park.

Matthew Bostock (Great Britain), Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), Mark Downey (Team Wiggins), Thomas Moses (JLT-Condor), Rory Townsend (Canyon-Eisberg), Richard Handley (Madison-Genesis) were the six riders to get clear early on, establishing a maximum gap of just under three minutes.

The peloton were happy to let them stay within reach out front, with gap dropping quickly in the final 50km.

The gap was down to just 55 seconds with 35km to go, though the six breakers fought on.

Quick-Step did the majority of the work on the front for Gaviria, with EF-Drapac chipping in as they eyed a sprint for Dan McLay or Sacha Modolo.

That work brought the gap down to 20 seconds with 22km remaining. With a catch now looking inevitable, the breakaway began to attack each other, with Dlamini the first to try with 20km to go.

Still with 17 seconds over the bunch, the move that finally stuck saw Rory Townsend go solo with 16km to go.

His effort was in vain however, with everyone finally caught with 11.5km to go ahead of the final climb of Belmont Hill.

Sky ramped up the pressure with a potential attack on the cards on the short, steep ascent.

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) then attacked with Julian Alaphilippe following on Belmont Hill, which topped out 7.8km from the finish.

Thomas quickly faded however, and a counter-attack from Jungels and Alaphilippe got away over the summit. They were joined by Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energie) and Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) on the descent, gaining 11 seconds advantage.

Jungels then went clear with 5.2km to go, with no real chase in earnest from his fellow breakaway riders.

Those three behind were caught by the peloton with 3.3km to go, but Jungels stayed out front with nine seconds in hand.

There was nothing the Luxembourg champion could do to hold off the chasing bunch though, and he was eventually caught with 1km remaining.

BMC then led into the final 750m, but it was Gaviria who launched his sprint first from a long way out. He was matched by Caleb Ewan on the left side of the road, before a late surge from Greipel to the line sealed the win.

Results

Tour of Britain 2018, stage one: Pembrey Country Park to Newport (175km)

1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal, in 4-00-54
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
4. Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Team Wiggins
5. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Great Britain
8. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, all same time

Overall classification after stage one

1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal, in 4-00-54
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 4s
3. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, at 6s
4. Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Team Wiggins, at 10s
5. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Great Britain
8. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky