The 29-year-old lives in Cheshire and admitted knowing the roads and climbs so well gave him the extra edge as well as the motivation to challenge for the win, his first in the Tour of Britain. Stannard was part of a four-man breakaway that went almost straight from the start, but attacked with 40-kilometres to go and rode alone to the finish.
“I was motivated to get in the break, I’ve been living on these roads since I was 18,” he said. “I didn’t expect the break to go quite so easily.”
Stannard was part of an all-British, four-man breakaway alongside Matt Cronshaw (Madison-Genesis), Kristian House (One Pro) and Graham Briggs (JLT-Condor). The riders amassed a gap up to seven minutes, as the peloton was reluctant to mount a chase.
“We [Sky] are going for stage wins and I think we knew there was a bit of a chance of the breakaway staying away today with the climbs and the sprinters not quite sure how hard they are,” Stannard said.
“I rode quite hard quite early to try and establish that gap because I knew Jack Bauer [Cannondale-Drapac] was behind [trying to bridge across]. He’s fairly close on GC still so I didn’t really want him in the group.”
The 182km stage featured three categorised climbs, with the last - the Cat and Fiddle – the most challenging of the three. Cronshaw was the first of the four to get dropped before Stannard attacked Briggs and House on the Cat and Fiddle climb.
“I kind of felt it a little bit when we got on the climbs,” Stannard continued. “I thought I’ll go early and keep hitting them to try and break them up a bit.
“I went away straight away, so I just committed. Obviously I know the descents quite well as well so I tried to take a good advantage of that and got a good gap.
“You know how hard the climbs are and how to judge your efforts a bit more, certainly the blind corners you know how fast you can take them and that’s a big advantage.”
The win was Stannard’s first victory since he won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February 2015 and is his first on what is his eighth start in his home tour. He attempted a solo breakaway at the race in 2008 on stage two from Milton Keynes to Newbury, but was caught with 15km to go.
“It’s nice, there was massive crowds out today and it was nice to do a really good ride,” he said.
The Sky rider will next race at the Eneco Tour before targeting a place in Great Britain’s squad for the Road World Championships in Qatar.
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