Corbin Strong wins opening Tour of Britain stage in hilltop bunch sprint

The Israel-Premier Tech rider took a surprise victory in Aberdeenshire

Corbin Strong at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech) won the opening stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, prevailing in blustery conditions outside the Glenshee Ski Centre in Scotland. 

The 22-year-old kicked past Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) in a mass hilltop sprint to take his first victory of the season atop the 9km-long Cairnwell Pass. 

Billed as the Queen Stage, the day began amid a yellow weather warning for the region, with heavy rainfall and howling winds characterising the first half of the race. A five-rider breakaway shared the points in the mountains and intermediate sprints competitions, until it was swallowed up in the last 2km and the peloton came back together. 

Fraile was the first to launch the sprint, but was ultimately beaten to the line by Strong, a former track world champion, who will wear the leader's jersey on stage two. 

How it happened

Starting where the race finished last year, the riders rolled out of Aberdeen, heading inland on a punchy 181.3km route towards a summit finish at the Glenshee Ski Centre. 

Just 15 minutes after the flag drop, the peloton had its first withdrawal when Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe) collided with a motorbike. The Austrian, who recently won the BEMER Cylassics one-day race, was forced to abandon before he had even warmed up.

An hour’s racing passed before a five-man breakaway group chose to leave the peloton and brave the rain. Human Powered Health duo Stephen Bassett and Matt Gibson were joined up the road by Martin Urianstad (Uno-X Pro Cycling) and WiV SunGod pair Matthew Teggart and Jacob Scott, the latter a two-time mountain classification winner at the race. The group stretched out a five-minute advantage as they set out to tackle the first categorised climbs of the day. 

The toughest of the three early ascents came with 100km to go. On the category-two climb of Suie Hill, Basset and Scott duelled for mountains points, with the Human Powered Health rider taking the spoils over the summit. Behind, Ineos Grenadiers and Israel-Premier Tech shared chasing duties, and the breakaway’s gap was reeled in to one and a half minutes with 50km still to race. 

Up the road, Teggart completed a clean sweep of the intermediate sprints, taking maximum points in all three to ensure himself a trip to the podium at the end of the day. The breakaway then rotated through turns as they ploughed through the verdant Scottish countryside.

At the foot of the final ascent, the five escapees carried an advantage of one minute and 20 seconds over the peloton. Alex Dowsett (Israel-Premier Tech) took control of the chase and towed the bunch in a bid to reduce the deficit.

The breakaway's day out came to an end as they passed the 2km to go banner. With the gradient growing steeper, Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) pulled through to the front, trailing Magnus Sheffield and Omar Fraile on his wheel - their teammate Tom Pidcock notably absent from the action. 

The peloton came back together on the run-in to the line, before Fraile opened up his sprint with 200m to go and kicked into the wind. Hot on the Spaniard's heels, Strong came hurtling past on the right side of the road, carrying his speed to the line to win by a bike length. 

"It's an awesome feeling," Strong said after the stage. "This year hasn't gone all to plan - my first year with Israel-Premier Tech. There's been a lot of ups and downs and [I'm] learning the way of the pro peloton.

"The team has kept believing in me, the riders have kept believing in me and I'm really happy to finally show I can win at this level." 

Results

Tour of Britain 2022, stage one: Aberdeen to Glenshee Ski Centre (181.3km) 

1. Corbin Strong (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech, in 4-36-37
2. Omar Fraile (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers
3. Anders Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling
4. Gonzalo Serrano (Esp) Movistar
5. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech
7. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè
8. Oscar Onley (GBr) Team DSM
9. Anthon Charmig (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling
10. Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Corbin Strong (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech, in 4-36-37
2. Omar Fraile (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers
3. Anders Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling
4. Gonzalo Serrano (Esp) Movistar
5. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
6. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech
7. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè
8. Oscar Onley (GBr) Team DSM
9. Anthon Charmig (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling
10. Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, all at same time

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