After a flawless lead-out from Max Richeze, the Colombian took his best result in more than three months, showing he is on track for returning to form.
The 14th edition of the Tour of Britain kicked off on Sunday morning from the Scottish city of Edinburgh, which hosted the start of the race for the first time in history. After the flag was waved, eight men formed a breakaway which was controlled by Quick-Step Floors, Orica-Scott and Team Sky, who made sure they didn't become a threat as the roads became twisty and undulating and the crosswinds looked poised to split the peloton.
After navigating through that nervous section of the 190.1km-long stage, the bunch overhauled the escapees on the final hill of the climb, with the help of some mammoth turns at the front by Laurens De Plus and Dan Martin, the Irishman who made his return to action five weeks after concluding the Tour de France in sixth place, his best Grand Tour result.
With a technical final in store, it came as no surprise that the peloton was all strung out heading into the last kilometers, where cobbles awaited the riders. Maximiliano Richeze moved to the front with two kilometers to go with Fernando Gaviria in his wheel and guided the Colombian through the tricky corners in Kelso, where the 23-year-old finished fifth (same time as teammate Zdenek Stybar, who was ninth), a solid result considering he came here with only a handful of racing days in his legs, after a calf injury put him to the sidelines and prevented him from training properly during the summer.
Brian Holm, Quick-Step Floors' sport director at the Tour of Britain, came with the lowdown on the stage: "Fernando missed some power, which is absolutely normal after such a long injury lay-off, but he should be better in a few days and we'll just have patience and see what he can take out of this race. It wasn't the hardest stage of the week, but the crosswinds, narrow roads and climbs made it complicated, and that's why we are glad none of our guys lost any time."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele