Lothians cyclist Evan Oliphant finished safely in the main bunch at the end of yesterday’s opening stage in the Aviva Tour of Britain.
The Team Raleigh-GAC man produced a solid effort throughout the 178 kilometre haul from Beaumaris to Wrexham and crossed the line in a large group. They were eight seconds down on a bunch of 30 riders who contested the stage win.
At the head was the Italian Elia Viviani of the British Team Sky squad who pipped Mark Cavendish (Etixx QuickStep) for the win, and Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who took third spot.
It was a fruitful outing for the ONE Pro Cycling team which featured at the front for much of the day. That kept recently appointed sporting director James McCallum busy and he was delighted to see his rider Pete Williams take the most aggressive rider award after a series of attacks.
Another of McCallum’s riders, Chris Opie, ended the stage in 18th spot, sharing the same time as the stage winner.
Cavendish looked in prime position to win the sprint at the end of the stage as he led Greipel round the final bend. But in seeking to hold off Greipel, Cavendish left space for the Italian to nip through on his left side and take victory by the narrowest of margins.
The sprint trio were part of a main bunch who hauled in a four-rider breakaway with two kilometres remaining to set up the thrilling finish.
Viviani told ITV: “On the last turn I took Greipel’s wheel and when he did not start his sprint I thought he had left it too late.
“But when Cavendish went I saw a space on the left and I went for the line. I thought maybe I had won but I didn’t know until a few metres after.”
The race continues today with the 160 kilometre ciruclar stage from Clitheroe in Lancashire to Colne. Tomorrow’s stage three goes from Cockermouth in Cumbria to Floors Castle, Kelso, and starts in Edinburgh on Wednesday and finishes in Blyth, Northumberland.