County takes centre stage in Tour of Britain
10 Sep 2021 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
Northumberland took centre stage as the prestigious AJ Bell Tour of Britain cycle race returned to the county.
In a day which started in Cumbria and finished in the shadow of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, the county provided a stunning backdrop for the central section of the race, speeding through various communities including Allendale, Hexham, Corbridge and Prudhoe on the way.
Belgian star Wout van Aert won the stage - the Belgian national champion sprinted home ahead of Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) as a 10-rider group contested the finish after a thrilling finale on the roads into Gateshead that saw multiple riders trying to go clear for the stage victory.
Hayter retains his race lead, although now trimmed to just four seconds over van Aert [Team Jumbo Visma] thanks to the time bonus at the finish line, with Alaphilippe slipping back slightly to plus 21 seconds.
“It’s great to keep the jersey,”
said Ethan Hayter. “The gap is now four seconds so if he
[van Aert] wins the race on time bonuses there’s not much we can do about it. I’m happy to be leading the Tour of Britain still, it’s amazing.
“It all kicked off with about 15 kilometres to go on that climb and actually I wasn’t playing it cool. I was on the limit, but Carlos
[Rodriguez] kind of saved me because otherwise I would’ve been open to a lot more attacks. He was closing stuff and setting a good tempo, and, in the end, it put everyone off attacking, especially in the last couple of kilometres.
“To keep the jersey and be second on the stage is a very good result for me and I’m looking forward to the next two days.”
Speaking after the race, Wout van Aert said; “It was a nice course with a nice opportunity in the end - a steep kicker with 14 kilometres to go. I thought it would be nice to make the race a bit harder and maybe even surprise some other guys, but we ended up with all the main favourites in the front group. From then on it was quite clear for me that it would be a sprint because Ethan
[Hayter] and the also the guy from Movistar
[Matteo Jorgenson] had a team-mate in the group who would keep it together."
The event moves to Scotland for the final two stages of the 2021 race. Saturday (11 September) sees a 194.8-kilometre (121.1-mile) Stage Seven from Hawick to Edinburgh with a picturesque route through the Scottish Borders before the AJ Bell Tour of Britain concludes with Stage Eight from Stonehaven to Aberdeen over 173 kilometres (107.6 miles) including the famous climb of Cairn o’Mount.