LONDON – Germany’s Andre Greipel overcame a late puncture to sprint to victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Britain Saturday, a 132.6 kilometer ride between Rochdale and Blackpool.
The 28-year-old HTC-Columbia rider suffered a flat in the final 8km of the race but after being gifted a wheel from teammate Marco Pinotti, the Tour of Italy stage winner went on to secure his 19th win of the season.
Italy’s Manuel Belletti, of the Colnago-CSG team, finished second with Team Sky rider Greg Henderson of New Zealand in third.
HTC-Columbia’s Sports Director Brian Holm admitted Greipel was lucky not to have punctured further on.
“The puncture made it all a bit more difficult, but we came through okay thanks to some great teamwork,” said Holm.
“We pulled back a break, but then Andre punctured with eight kilometers to go. I got almost everybody to stop, and Marco (Pinotti) gave him his wheel.
“There’s a 90 degree turn on this stage just a little later where the road turns onto the beach and where the bunch always gets strung out. But we got him back in time, and we got our first win and the lead too.”
Sunday’s second stage sees the peloton go on a 160.5km circuit starting and finishing in Stoke-on-Trent.