The Tour of Britain 2021 has now finished and Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team sure put on a show for UK cycling fans. James Shaw yet again showed that he deserves the chance to ride at the very highest levels of cycling when he finished 14th overall. In doing so, he beat some very formidable riders from World Tour teams in finishing as the highest placed rider from outside the world’s premier racing teams. In this blog, we take a look at the tour and provide a stage by stage summary of Ribble Weldtite’s 4 top tens and includes Matt Gibson’s incredible third place stage finish.
The UK’s biggest cycle race is back! The Tour of Britain allows UK cycling fans to see their heroes made real. To experience the searing speed and savour the thrill of professional road racing at its finest. The Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team makes its debut at this year’s race. Looking to build upon its incredible results at the recent Tour of Norway and Tour of Slovenia. Where two top 5 finishes declared to the cycling world that this is a team that should never be underestimated.
Tour of Britain Stage Results
Job Done – Stage 8
Wout van Aert once again proves himself to be the class of the field as he sprints to victory on the final stage of the 2021 Tour of Britain. His dominant victory came at the end of a chaotic sprint that saw Ribble Weldtite’s Matt Gibson power home in 7th place.
It was an oddly subdued final stage in which the big teams were happy to let a small break form. The gap always seemed to be under control, however, with Deceuninck Quickstep in particular always looking to police the front of the main bunch. Van Aerts Jumbo Visma teammates joined Quickstep at the front to help bring back the breakaway. With less than 20 km to go the tension at the front of the peloton was palpable. With both teams showing the strain in trying to bring back a small deficit that showed little sign of shrinking.
Eventually, they were forced to commit fresh troops to the fight which would leave their lead-out trains woefully short of numbers. However, the change paid off as the gap continued to tick down second by painful second. Once the catch was made, the jostling for position immediately began. For Ribble Weldtite, this involved James Shaw finding a way through eh gaps to bring Matt Gibson to the front. It was the first real sighting of Ribble Weldtite during the stage as their depleted squad had been happy to sit safely within the main bunch throughout.
As the pace ramped up and the likes of Cav, van Aert and tour leader Hayter went toe to toe for the win Matt found himself boxed in. Once the sprint opened up, gaps thankfully appeared and Matt expertly surfed the wheels to secure his second top 10 finish of the tour. There was little change to the overall standings, besides Van Aert taking overtaking Hayter to take the overall title of course. As a result, James Shaw held on to finish 14th overall at the Tour of Britain. The fact that every rider who finished ahead of him ride for World Tour teams just goes to show how incredible his achievement was.
Congratulations to James and all of his Ribble Weldtite teammates who can now head for home with heads held high. No less than four top-ten stage finishes plus a top 15 overall just goes to prove once again, that this is a team this is more than capable of holding its own against the world’s elite. Congratulations also to all of the support team, without whom none of this would be possible.
Sooo close for Gibbo – Stage 7
What an effort from Matt Gibson as he sprints to a phenomenal third-placed finish on stage seven of the Tour of Britain. On paper, the penultimate stage of the 2021 edition of the tour was very similar to those that had preceded it. A tough day consisting of the short, punchy climbs that are typical of these fair shores. Also fairly typical was the stiff wind that greeted riders and which only served to make an already difficult day even tougher. In total, the route measured 194 km, starting in the Scottish border town of Hawick before heading through rural countryside to finish just outside Scotlands capital city.
As soon as the flag was dropped to signify the start of the race, riders jostled for position to try and make int into what they hoped would be the days definitive break. Thankfully, Matt Gibson made it into this initial break of 7 riders. Unfortunately, it just so happened to also include a rider that was dangerously close to the GC lead. Thankfully Deceunink Quickstep and Movistar realised this and quickly snuffed out the danger by ejecting the unfortunate rider from the front of the race.
Without a serious GC threat within their midst, the breakaway was allowed plenty of leeway. Team Ineos rode unconcernedly on the front and let Matt and his breakaway companions build a lead hit nearly 10 minutes at its peak. As the kilometres ticked down, Matt found himself as the only non-World Tour representative in a group of 5 riders. All that remained standing from the seven that initially broke clear.
However, with two teammates present and from arguably the World Tour’s premier team, pulling off an upset victory was always going to be incredibly difficult. This was clearly borne out when Yves Lampaerts sneaked away with a Movistar rider for company. Displaying his incredible engine, Matt set after the duo and quickly reeled them in. In doing so, forming a trio that would eventually go on to decide the stage via a sprint finish.
Upon entering the home straight, Matt was in the unenviable position of leading out the sprint from the front. As his companions launched their sprints it quickly became clear that his earlier efforts to catch the pair had come at a cost. Despite running on fumes, Matt wound up the engine one last time to give it all in his sprint. To claim third against that standard of competition is simply incredible, chapeau Matt! There was no change to the overall GC standings so James stills sits 14th heading into the final stage.
Counter move by Shaw pays off – Stage 6
As the Tour passed through the Lake District and the Pennines it was another day full of attacks and drama. It was certainly one of mixed emotions and results for the team. After a huge effort in yesterday’s break, it was a DNS for Dan Bigham to bring his tour to a premature end. Stage 6 also saw an abandonment for Charles Page. Not the ending he’d hoped for, but it must be noted how hard Charles has worked in support of Matt Gibson and James Shaw. As a result, various obstacles arose. Most notably of which were feeding issues, which led to Simon Wilson being designated the bottle carrier. Similarly, when the rain inevitably appeared, Matt assumed key domestique duties to go back to the car to grab the capes.
A damp start to a challenging 198km course saw an early break ensue as the race left Carlisle. After an initial breakaway of nine riders, which included Cavendish and Janssens, two riders ended up back in the peloton. Whilst the remaining seven riders carved out a lead of more than 4 minutes.
A glut of counter moves later in the stage saw a select bunch sprint from Gateshead which resulted in the gap to the breakaway to evaporate, instigated mainly by James as he forced the final selection with 14km to go. Another 1km later though Van Aert administered his own counterattack.
Now a winning break had formed, and it included the top three riders overall and James. A lead of 30 seconds built quickly to the rest of the peloton and the last 10km saw a flurry of attacks, with James looking to be particularly aggressive.
A select sprint with 2km to go saw James finish in a phenomenal 5th place. Resulting in him maintaining 14th place in the GC whilst looking comfortable mixing it with the best in the world. We move onto Scotland on Saturday where the historic city of Edinburgh will host its first stage finish of the modern Tour of Britain. Although reduced to four riders for Stage 7, Simon, Gruff, Matt and James go again flying the flag high for Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling.
Heartbreak for Dan – Stage 5
Straight from the start, it was clear that Dan Bigham’s intention was to get into the day’s break. However, the peloton was unwilling to let the break form initially, and it was only after two abortive attempts that Dan managed to force the issue. Displaying gritty determination, Dan surged clear for the third time and was joined by 4 other riders. This was the breakaway quintet that was to prove a thorn in the side of the main bunch for the entire stage.
With the gap continually hovering around the 3 1/2 minute mark, it was clear that the sprinter’s teams would allow the break little leeway. With approximately 40km left to go, the gap gradually diminished as the big teams put men on the front to bring it back together. At 17km to go, Dan briefly entered tt mode to incredibly take a lead that had dropped below 30seconds to over 40 seconds. However, it was clear that he would not be able to sustain this for long after being out front for over 130km.
At 12.8km to go and with the catch looking to be more and more inevitable, Dan attacked. A trio of pursuers worked together to reel him back in relatively quickly, though they lost a ride in doing so. But Dan’s break seemed to inject new impetus into the trio. Consequently, over the course of the next 10km or so they invested all of their energy into one last mighty effort to stay clear to the finish. In doing so, they forced the world tour teams to commit men to the chase at the expense of their lead-out trains. But it was to be heartbreak for Dan and his companions when they were caught with just 1.5km to go.
Whilst all this was going on Matt and James ensured that they were close to the head of the bunch for the now inevitable bunch sprint. Ribble Weldtite’s hopes now rested on the broad shoulders of their sprinter, Matt Gibson. Coming into the final Matt was perfectly placed to contest the sprint against some of the world’s finest sprinters. Alas, disaster was to strike as a rider slid out in front of all but the front half dozen riders. Crucially this delayed both Matt and James, cruelly denying Matt his chance to contest the sprint. Both finished within the top 20 without losing any time, which means the team head to Cumbria for stage 6 with James still sitting 14th on GC.
Gruff heads home – Stage 4
The Queens stage of this year’s Tour of Britain more than lived up the billing. A day of racing that had it all; heroic breakaway, stunning scenery, tough climbs and an epic finale that was worthy of gracing any of cycling’s Grand Tours. Straight from the off, a group of 7 riders that included Gruff Lewis went clear and gained an advantage of over 7 minutes. Clearly inspired by the route passing through his home town and along roads he knows well Gruff was clearly enjoying himself. This despite the fact that the terrain was at times bordering on the insane for cyclists that are mere mortals.
The high point of the day was seeing Gruff launch his successful sprint to claim the first intermediate sprint points of the day. With approximately 39.5km to go the break was reeled in and almost immediately further attacks ensued. But it was all for nought as a rampaging peloton was having none of it and kept up the pressure to nullify all attempts to break free. It was during this period that Dan and Matt came to the fore to ensure that James was where he needed to be – at the sharp end.
It was a much-reduced peloton that arrived at the foot of the Great Orme and what a spectacle this ascent would treat us to. The GC contenders battled it out like the gladiators that they are and it was the Belgian champion that prove who just about pipped the World Champion at the line. Such was the severity of the finish after more than 200km of tough racing, riders were strewn along the slopes of the climb.
The ill-luck that had struck on the previous stage, unfortunately, resurfaced. This time it was James who was the victim of an ill-timed mechanical on the descent into Llandudno. Thankfully, Matt was on hand to give James his bike, but the damage was done. Already on the limit, James gave all he had to cross the line 22nd and limit his losses to 47 seconds. Despite this, he still managed to move up a place to 14th on GC. Furthermore, James is now the only rider from outside of the World Tour currently residing within the top 15 of the Tour of Britain.
It was a day that dawned with hope and expectation in the ranks of Ribble Weldtite, yet one that ended with the riders feeling a little cheated by ill luck. Heading into Stage 3’s team time trial there was a sense of anticipation that the team would set a blisteringly superfast time. This they did, and then some. Putting over a minute and a half into the early runners. However, it was not quite the blockbuster ride that it could have been. This was in large part due to Si Wilson’s chain parting company with his bike at the most inopportune of moments.
This left Gruff with a gap to close, which is difficult at the best of times. But when going full bore and being on the ragged edge it poses a whole different challenge. But rise to the challenge Gruff and the rest of the team did. Despite this setback, they posted a time some 53 seconds ahead of the next best-placed Continental team. Furthermore, they finished only 1 second down on Movistar, a team that sits two full levels above Ribble Weldtite! A day of what-ifs, but tomorrow they move onto queen stage with two riders well-placed on GC. James Shaw sits in 15th and Matt Gibson 18th, the sole representative of riders from Continental teams that are currently within the top 20.
A successful end to a hard day of racing. With riders seeking shelter from the blazing heat of the sun as early as the start line, it was clear that this was going to be a sweltering stage. So it proved to be, with a somewhat lethargic peloton seemingly content to let a 5 man break gain nearly 8-minutes of an advantage. The heat and severity of the rolling course seemingly having an effect on the big teams who looked to be disinclined to chase down the breakaway.
Eventually, the breakaway succumbed to the heat and the incredibly difficult rolling nature of Dartmoor to leave a lone rider to try and hold off the main bunch. With approximately 10km to go the big teams seemed to awaken from whatever slumber they were in and realised that there might in fact be a race on after all. It was not to be, however, and the final sprint for the line was for minor placings only. James went one better than yesterday to finish 11th at the line with Matt in close attendance in 14th. The result maintained James’s 12th place on GC. Next up is stage 3’s 18.2km team time trial, a golden chance for Ribble Weldtite’s time triallists to shine!
Ribble Weldtite lined up for the opening stage of the 2021 Tour of Britain looking very resplendent in their new tour edition splatter kit. Without a doubt the best kit in the peloton. A day that began so brightly (quite literally thanks to the new kit) quickly descended into chaos as a number of the team were victims of an early crash. Numerous rapid bike changes ensued, with all riders making it safely back into the bunch. The exception was Charles, who had to chase back on for the best part of 70km. But chase back on he did, a superb solo effort and an incredibly gutsy ride.
Thankfully the rest of the team remained in the bunch and the rest of the stage went largely to plan. The clear intent being to keep James in contention, and in doing so, protect his GC ambitions. With 18km to go, Matt and James made their presence felt at the head of the pack. The run-in to the line perhaps suited James a little more, with a brute of an uphill sprint finish that provided the gripping spectacle of a clash of the titans. A gritty display from both riders saw James cross the line 12th and Matt 33rd. It’s on to Devon for stage 2, with James’s GC ambitions very much still alive.
The Tour of Britain 2021
Many of the World Tour riders will be using the race as a pre-World Championship tune-up. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the start list for the 17th edition reads like a veritable who’s who of professional road racing. With Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling set to battle it out with the biggest names in cycling. Riders of the pedigree of Julian Alaphilippe, Wout Van Aert, and Cav, to name but a few.
The 2021 edition of the Tour of Britain promises to be the best yet. With riders set to contest the victory over 8 days of gruelling racing along the length of the UK. The route starts in Penzance and measures 1320km in total. With 20,000m (65616.8ft in old money) of climbing thrown in for good measure, before its grand finale in Aberdeen.
Ribble Weldtite team line-up
Ribble Weldtite’s team that lines up for the start of the Tour of Britain is a perfect blend of youth and experience. It includes many expert exponents of the art of time-trialling within its ranks. So stage 3’s team time trial looks tailor-made for the time trial specialists and their Ribble Ultra TT bikes. After superb performances at the Tour of Slovenia and Tour of Norway, they will once again look to prove their mettle at World Tour level.
Dan is a track and time trial specialist and just happens to be a leading aerodynamicist. So he knows a thing or two about exploiting every advantage in the quest for marginal gains. His expertise has proved invaluable in ensuring that Ribble Weldtite is well-equipped for the race against the clock. Dan’s Bronze medal in the mixed relay team trial at the 2019 Road Race World Championships bears testament to his single-minded dedication.
Matt is a former graduate of the British Olympic Academy Programme. Since joining the ranks of Ribble Weldtite, Matt has proved to be available addition. His most notable achievement to date being his individual breakaway victory at the opening round of the Tour Series. Eventually going on to claim the sprint competition jersey. Consequently helping Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling to clinch the overall series title.
Gruff is a versatile racer who is as happy off-road as he is on it. In 2017 Gruff was crowned Welsh National Cyclocross Champion. This was followed up with victory at the National Road Race Championship of Wales in 2019. With no race taking place in 2020 Gruff heads into the Tour of Britain as the current Welsh National Road Race Champion.
In his second season with the team, under 23 rider Charles has already gained a wealth of experience racing both within the UK and beyond.
“I’m really excited to get stuck into this year’s Tour of Britain, it’s kind of acting as the ultimate culmination of all the work put into this season! It’s been interesting how much support I’ve received from family friends and people around me. This event just carries a lot more prestige than some of the other tours I’ve done at the same level this year! So bring it on!”
Through the industrious work of his teammates and some stunning individual rides, James has had a season to remember. In June he secured 5th place at the Tour of Slovenia. Taking on the might of UAE Emirates and the current TdF champion to finish as the highest placed Continental rider. He repeated this incredible achievement at the recent Tour of Norway. Where he once again excelled in the high mountains to secure a top 5 finish on GC.
Team veteran and Lancashire lad, Si is a regular fixture on the domestic time trial scene. For over a decade Si has been racking up victories on the road and track. Si’s big engine and time trialling expertise will prove invaluable for stage 3’s team time-trial.
Tour of Britain Stage Preview
There’s to be no easy introduction to the race as the peloton is subjected to a 180km route that zigzags across the ruggedly beautiful landscape of Cornwall. The Ribble Weldtite riders will line up on the start line in Penzance aboard their Endurance SL R Disc team bikes. The stage features plenty of the short, punchy climbs that the UK, and Cornwall, in particular, is renowned for. The finish includes a 500m section that begins with a 13% incline at an average gradient of 5%. This is a stage that looks to be tailor-made for the puncheurs of the peloton.
Despite the race moving across the border into Devon, stage 2 is almost a carbon copy of the previous days racing. From the start in Sherford, the terrain is rolling until Ivybridge where the riders flirt with the edge of Dartmoor. Things get a whole lot more serious just after Tavistock when summiting two out of the three 2nd category climbs of the day. These may just be the decisive factor in determining the final outcome of the stage victory.
The third stage consists of an 18.2km team time trial that starts in Ffairfach, near Llandeilo. It then continues through the stunning Tywi Valley before finishing at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The stage is littered with a host of visitor attractions, whilst the Botanic Gardens themselves have recently been voted as the number one Wonder of Wales. It’s the opportunity that Ribble Weldtite’s TT specialists have been chomping at the bit for. So don’t be too surprised if they propel their Ribble Ultra TT’s to a really competitive time.
The Queen stage of the 2021 Tour of Britain sees riders tackle a 210km route that heads to parts of mid-Wales for the first time in modern tour history. Starting in the harbour town of Aberaeron, the stage heads through Abertsytwyth, Borth, and Barmouth. Though the real tests await them in the Snowdonia National Park. Firstly, the riders face a challenge in the shape of the 1st category ascent of Ffynon Eidda. In addition to the ascent of Great Ormes Marine Drive Toll road and a 1.9km, 9.8% average climb to the finish.
A stage that starts at the world-leading biotech campus in Alderley Edge could be the first opportunity for the sprinters to shine. The only climbs of any note are the two 3rd category and solitary 2nd category climbs. So, don’t be surprised to see the sprint trains deployed for the first time. Or will it be a breakaway that spoils the sprinter’s party?
After the easier terrain of the preceding day, stage 6 should provide a much sterner test. The stage starts in Carlisle before traversing the Pennines and finishing by the Angel of the North statue in Gateshead. The day features no less than three 1st cat climbs and should once again favour the puncheurs.
The penultimate stage heads across the border, with Hawick making its debut as a host. A 194.8km route consisting of only a solitary 3rd cat and two 2nd cat climbs may once again see the sprinter’s teams contest the win with a bunch sprint in Holyrood Park.
Aberdeenshire plays host to the grand finale of the 2021 Tour of Britain and a 173km route from Stonehaven to Aberdeen. Will the sprinter’s teams once again have their day? Or will it be a breakaway that proves victorious?
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