Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) and Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) are keeping race diaries for The British Continental throughout the Tour of Britain. This is Ethan’s diary entry after stage 4
Me and Matt both fell down a pothole which was pretty deep
Stage 4 wrap
The phenomenon that is Mathieu Van der Poel deservedly took the plaudits today after a stunning display of power to win the stage up the slopes of Beast Banks in Kendal. The 24-year-old Dutchman attacked from a reduced peloton 200m up the gruelling Cumbrian finishing climb, crossing the line three seconds ahead of his nearest challengers Jasper de Buyst (Lotto Soudal) and Simon Clarke (EF Education First).
It was an exciting stage to watch from the comfort of home, but for the riders it was a tougher affair altogether as they headed from Gateshead to Kendal across the Pennines. Domestic riders Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) and Mark Christian (Team Wiggins Le Col) were in the thick of the action is the race kicked off in the final 30 kms. But it was James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) who was the most visible home rider. He went away along with Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) and Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) building a small lead that was cruelly ended at the foot of Beast Banks as Van der Poel blasted by.
Ethan’s teammate Connor Swift put in solid ride, finishing just 14 seconds down on Van der Poel in 25th place. Ethan, meanwhile, came in over 14 minutes down in 63rd place next to fellow diarist Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes).
Ethan’s stage 4 diary
185 km with 3,100 m ascent!
We sat down last night and discussed this stage and what we wanted from it and we were all more than happy to help Connor out today as it suited him the most.
A few of our guys tried for the early break but it was full stick from the start going straight up a 2 km climb. Ineos and AG2R were the 2 teams who made the initial move which got a gap. 3 riders were in the break in the end. We had Matt Brammeier (our DS) telling us down the radio to just dig deep for the first 60-70 km as it’ll be easier after then, which we all did.
The climbs over the moors were pretty grippy with the group lined out and everyone in the gutter, trying to shelter from the crosswind. Me and Matt both fell down a pothole which was pretty deep. I required a spare wheel and Matt a spare bike. We chased back on hard but it wasn’t an ideal place to have mechanicals with the race starting to light up. When we eventually rejoined with the group, my bars snapped so I needed my spare bike, which unfortunately meant another chase!
It calmed down after that through the feed and I had time to get a few gels and bars down before the final climbs of the day. The race lit up with about 40 km to go up a 1.8 km climb at an average gradient of 10% where Jake and Connor were placed well in the lead group for the final climb. Connor came in just 14 seconds down on Van der Poel.
To give you an indication of today, my normalised power for the first 2:15hrs (before I had a bike swap) was 345w!
Tomorrow looks a lot kinder with just 1,100m of ascent. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s ridden, as the majority of the climbing is on the finishing laps. I think that the race will pan out similar to stage 2 where teams will try and get rid of Dylan Groenewegen before the finish line.
Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain – Stage 4: Gateshead to Kendal, England – Ethan Vernon of Great Britain Cycling Team