Originally we hadn’t planned to go down to The Scottish Borders to see Stage Two of the Tour of Britain 2022 – but the sun came out, we made a few time calculations and as I said of yesterday; ‘it’s not every day you get the chance to see some of the world’s best bike riders on home soil.’
We parked up on the Wanside Rig prime hill, the first of the day’s three tough Borders ascents and the same one as where we watched the race last year on the stage won by Yves Lampaert.
One of life’s simple pleasures is surely sitting on the grass verge in the sunshine, waiting on a bike race coming up the hill.
There were three riders clear, white jersey sprints leader, Matt Teggart [SunGod & Ireland] green jersey king of the mountains, Stephen Bassett [Human Powered Health & USA] and Adam Lewis [Saint Piran & GB].
We’d learn later that it was the Irishman who nicked the points and had picked up all of the day’s sprint points too – not a bad day for the British squad then.
The peloton was just behind, led by a determined looking Richie Porte in the service of race favourite, Tom Pidcock with eventual second placed Jake Stewart unfamiliar in GB colours rather than his usual Groupama-FDJ livery well placed – Jake would finish an eventual very close second to Cees Bol.
The Uno X boys were also well to the fore but wouldn’t repeat Anders Johanessen’s Roadside at the Tour of Britain Stage One podium finish
The peloton pace was high with no chat but plenty of open mouths on show.
The continental Qhubeka boys were finding the level perhaps just a notch too high for them, mixing with the World Tour beasts.
And just off the back and looking anything but a winner was big Cees Bol [DSM & The Netherlands] that grimace replaced by a smile in Duns.
Bol is a product of the sadly now defunct SEG u23 Racing Academy; when he won Nokere Koerse in 2019 it looked like he was well on his way to the top rung of the sprint ladder but he’s not been as prolific as it seemed he’s capable of with this being his first win of 2022.
And Bol’s not a bad track rider either, I saw him in action at the Three Days of Copenhagen in 2020 where he rode very strongly.
And it’s not a proper prime hill unless there’s a ‘sticky bottle’ on the go – he’d be cursing his Uno X team mates forcing it at the front.
The man in the exotic jersey is Puerto Rican National Champion, Abner Gonzalez of Movistar, off the back in good company – former World Champion, Michal Kwiatkowski.
We’d learn later that the Movistar riders had been held up by a crash so perhaps that explains them being off the pace?
He was singing to his team mates yesterday at the Aberdeen start but was quieter today on Wanside, Sasha Modolo [Bardiani – CSF – Faizane & Italy].
As a neo-pro, way back in 2010 he was fourth in Milan-Sanremo and despite two Giro stage wins since then he’s never really lived up to that early promise.