Oli Stockwell mixes it with the best as Wout van Aert beats Julian Alaphilippe
- Credit: SWPIX.COM
Oli Stockwell's superb Tour of Britain continued with an epic ride on the queen's stage - finishing hot on the heels of dynamic duo Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe.
The former Welwyn Wheeler stayed with a heavily-reduced front group that skirted round the Great Orme on the outskirts of Llandudno in stage four of the eight-day race.
The final 2km was up the dreaded climb and while arguably the world's best two cyclists on this type of terrain duked it out for the win, the London Colney man finished 15th, just 41 seconds behind.
It made him the biggest mover in the general classification, thrusting him up 22 places to 35th, five minutes 51 seconds behind van Aert who reclaimed the race lead.
Ethan Hayter and Ineos Grenadiers had looked to control the latter stages and Hayter rode a measured final climb, reconnecting with the leaders inside the final kilometre.
But time bonuses on the line proved vital, with both van Aert and Alaphilippe collapsing in a heap shortly after the line as they attempted to some wind back into their lungs.
Van Aert now leads Hayter by two seconds with world champion Alaphilippe a further nine seconds adrift in third.
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Standings - stage
1.Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) 5:04:22
2.Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) s.t.
3.Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) +0.01
4.Mikkel Frolich Honore (Deceuninck Quick-Step) +0.04
5.Ethan Hayer (Ineos Grenadiers) +0.08
15.Oli Stockwell (GB) +0.41
Standings - GC
1.Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) 14:44:49
2.Ethan Hayer (Ineos Grenadiers) +0.02
3.Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) +0.11
4.Mikkel Frolich Honore (Deceuninck Quick-Step) +0.21
5.Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) +0.40
35.Oli Stockwell (GB) +5.51
Next - stage five
A chance for the sprinters perhaps as a lumpy course round Cheshire ends in a flat run to Warrington.
It has to be a sprint this one and if Mark Cavendish has any plans to win a stage of this year's race, then this could be one.
The problem is his team have done a lot of work to protect Julian Alaphilippe and Mikkel Frolich Honore in the GC and may fancy a day off so he might be waiting until Aberdeen.
Wout van Aert and Ethan Hayter may have eyes on bonus seconds but I can see a breakaway making it as the big boys settle for a stalemate.
Stage two: Robin Carpenter takes win and overall lead
Stage three: Ineos Grenadiers in charge with team time trial win