|Stoke-on-Trent –The boys from Team UnitedHealthcare continue to impress at the 2012 Tour of Britain, extending their string of dominant performances for a fifth consecutive day as Marc de Maar (Curacao’s national champion) launched a solo effort attacking the breakaway in the final kilometers of the Stoke-on-Trent Stage and cruising to Stage 5 victory in front of thousands.
De Maar’s Teammate Boy van Poppel (NED) sprinted to a 3rd place finish in Stage 5, and captured his fifth straight top 10 (and fourth top five) result of the Tour. Garmin-Sharp’s Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) finished in second place just ahead of van Poppel.
Since the start of the event on September 9, Team UnitedHealthcare has put together five consecutive performances that have been nothing short of outstanding thus far in a Tour that has received enormous praise and numerous comparisons to the legendary Tour de France. The Team truly stands united, working together and fighting through adversity with a great attitude and a “never say die/podium-or-bust” approach to racing that the squad adopted in early August. And since then, the boys representing the U.S. based Pro Continental outfit have enjoyed a wave of success in Utah, Colorado, Portugal and the UK, winning stages and spending multiple days on the podium, in special classification jerseys and in the overall lead.
De Maar’s victory today was even more incredible this afternoon given the fact he and Teammate Chris Jones (USA) were involved in a crash on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent. Yet both recovered, got back in the break and shortly afterward, de Maar launched a solo move and built a lead that would not be relinquished and the man wearing Curacao’s gold and blue national champion’s jersey would go on to beat his competitor’s by 15 seconds.
“It was a bit of a tough stage today,” said de Maar in the press conference following the stage. “In fact, it’s been bit of a rough week for me. I started off in crashes on the first two days, so I kind of lost my motivation because I came here to do something in the GC. But luckily my Team Director (Hendrik Redant) coached me through the last few days as I was almost thinking of going home. Luckily I didn’t as I won a stage today!”
“It was a tough start, the climbs were hard and punchy and the wind on the tops of the climbs so we tried to be up there with as many guys as possible so we ended up with three guys in the first group, a perfect situation. Boy [van Poppel] was up there so we said, let’s try to go in the breakaway, so that’s what we did and I won the stage.”
“It took some effort to stay away,” an elated but exhausted de Maar continued, “but as soon as the finish came closer, I started to believe in it and all of a sudden I had something extra to put on my pedal. I’m really proud of my Teammates and myself. Still can’t believe it, too much excitement going on, but I’m sure we’ll get back to the hotel and realize what’s happened.”
Redant, stated proudly, “Stage 5 today was short but very hard and hilly. In our meeting this morning, we knew that a sprint of a little group was going to be a possibility. The majority of our guys knew the climb over “Gun Hill” from the stage in last year’s Tour of Britain, and we knew that Chris Jones, Marc de Maar, and a very strong riding Boy van Poppel could make it over that hill. So the plan was to cover the early moves of big groups and later, try to get in the good break over the hill.”
Redant continued, “The open, hilly roads split the peloton into several parts. Jonny Clarke (AUS) put in a lot of effort keeping his three Teammates in the front and when the moves finalized themselves, we were able to get Marc, Chris and Boy in that group of 23 and Marc and Chris’ awesome work kept Boy in the front on the last hill.”
“Marc and Chris crashed with about 12km to go but both got back and could retake their positions. Then, Marc attacked with about 8km to go, simply a brilliant move. Few teams could organize the chase and Chris and Boy did everything they could to protect Marc’s attack. Marc’s solo win and Boy taking 3rd place in this hard stage was a ‘cherry on the ice cream sundae’ today. This was an awesome day for our Team!” Redant concluded.
With his 3rd place finish today, van Poppel elevates into 2nd place overall in the General Classification, and after five stages, he remains in the blue jersey representing the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification leader. Van Poppel is now just a mere seven seconds off of Leigh Howard (AUS) of Orica-GreenEDGE, who currently holds the IG Gold Leader’s Jersey. The young speedster representing the Netherlands has been nothing short of spectacular this Tour of Britain. Chris Jones, who has been a workhorse the entire season for the blue and white squad, also jumped into the top 10 overall, and now sits in 8th place in the GC, 34 seconds behind Howard.
The Tour of Britain is now the UK’s biggest professional bike race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event. Stage 6 of the Tour continues tomorrow, Friday, September 14.
TEAM UNITEDHEALTHCARE ROSTER FOR THE 2012 TOUR OF BRITAIN (September 9-16, 2012):
THE TOUR OF BRITAIN
The 2012 Tour of Britain will take place Sunday, September 9 – 16, 2012.
Stage 1: Sunday, September 9, Ipswich to Norfolk Showground
Stage 2: Monday, September 10, Nottingham to Knowsley
Stage 3: Tuesday, September 11, Jedburgh to Dumfries
Stage 4: Wednesday, September 12, Carlisle to Blackpool
Stage 5: Thursday, September 13, The Stoke-on-Trent Stage
Stage 6: Friday, September 14, Welshpool to Caerphilly
Stage 7: Saturday, September 15, Barnstaple to Dartmouth
Stage 8: Sunday, September 16, Reigate to Guildford
Re-launched in 2004 after a five-year absence from the calendar, The Tour of Britain is now the UK’s biggest professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event.
Ranked at the 2.1 level by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, The Tour of Britain attracts some of the world’s top cyclists, including Olympic and World Champions and Tour de France stage winners, to compete on British roads each September.
The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with IG Markets, SKODA and Yodel.