Yves Lampaert finished off a tactical masterclass to deliver stage victory on day seven of the Tour of Britain 2021.
The Belgian Classics specialist (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) helped kick-start the early six-rider breakaway, then forced the decisive move inside the final 10km, patiently waiting until the final 100m to launch his sprint, beating Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) and Mathew Gibson (Ribble-Weldtite) to glory.
Race leader Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) sprinted to lead the peloton home and maintains his race lead heading into the final stage.
How it happened
Stage seven of the 2021 Tour of Britain was another punchy day of racing, featuring three categorised climbs on the run from Hawick, just across the Scottish border, to the capital Edinburgh.
The 194km day of racing took on the Berrybush, Stow Hill and Wanside Rig, before a series of uncategorised ramps in the final 40km, and a short downhill dash to the line.
As the flag dropped, three riders immediately pulled out a gap on the peloton, with Matt Gibson (Ribble-Weldtite), and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) going on the attack.
Onto the first climb of the day, the 10km-long Berrybush ascent, four more riders bridged across to the three leaders, with Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) and Christopher Blevins (Trinity Racing) completing the day’s breakaway.
The peloton let the breakaway out on a long leash, the gap going out to nine minutes in the opening 50km.
With Matteo Jorgenson just five minutes down on GC at the start of the day, the American went into the virtual race lead in the break, forcing Ineos to chase hard to keep Ethan Hayter in the jersey, Richie Porte doing the lion’s share of the work for the home team.
Racing was quiet in the middle kilometres, as the breakaway maintained around eight minutes on the bunch, Ineos Grenadiers still leading at the front of the peloton with 67km to the line.
Into the sharp end of the race and the bunch finally started to put a dent into the gap.
Ineos knocked Jorgenson out of the virtual lead as the breakaway’s advantage slipped down to around five minutes with 30km to the line, as Alpecin-Fenix then began to contribute to the pace in the peloton.
With 15km to race the, the peloton burst into action, the gap to the break now down to 3-26, as Deceuninck upped the paced at the head of the race, Blevins eventually dropped from the escape to leave five out front.
With 8.5km to race, the gap down to just 2-20, Lampaert put in a huge attack, with only Jorgenson able to follow immediately, splitting the break as Eenkhoorn tried to close the distance for the other three. Jorgenson pulled through and was happy to work with the Belgian, as they gained 10 seconds on the remains of the breakaway.
Gibson, the only Continental rider in the break amongst the WorldTour talent, helped Eenkhoorn chase while Lampaert’s team-mate Ballerini sat on the wheels and just marked out the chasers.
There was a tense moment between the two leaders, as Lampaert looked behind and collided with Jorgenson’s wheel in front, almost going down but managing to hold on.
With 5km to race Gibson put in an enormous burst of speed to drop Eenkhoorn and Ballerini to bridge across to the leaders, making it three out front.
Lampaert then opted to sit on the wheels of Jorgenson and Gibson, in the hopes that Ballerini could make it back across to give Deceuninck the advantage in numbers.
By this point it was clear the break had outlasted the bunch, as the peloton were still 2-36 behind with just 3.4km to race.
Gibson put in a flurry of attacks inside 3km but Jorgenson and Lampaert had him covered, and into the final kilometre those three riders were glued together, Gibson leading, followed by Lampaert then Jorgenson.
Into the final 100m, Gibson still led but it was Lampaert who launched his sprint first, Jorgenson following as Gibson went backwards, his earlier efforts taking their toll.
Lampaert sprinted to the victory after a confident performance by Deceuninck, Jorgsenson second and then Gibson, with Ballerini the next rider to cross around 30 seconds later.
As the bunch cross the line around two minutes later, Ethan Hayter led in the rest, with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) pinned to his wheel.
Hayter still leads by four seconds over Van Aert heading into the final day, a 173km stage from Stonehaven to Aberdeen, that could result in a reduced bunch sprint.
Tour of Britain 2021, stage seven: Hawick to Edinburgh (194.8km)
1. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 4-39-09
2. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar
3. Matthew Gibson (GBr) Ribble-Weldtite, at same time
4. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 35s
5. Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 41s
6. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-51
7. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
8. Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix,all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 27-34-32
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 4s
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 21s
4. Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceunick - Quick-Step, at 35s
5. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 54s
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-08
7. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 1-10
8. Kritian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix, at 1-37
9. Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM, at 1-58
10. Carlos Rodriguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-01.
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