Monday’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain stage in Devon was anything but a rainy day for Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) as the 29-year old Philadelphian rode into the race lead with an impressive solo victory in Exeter city centre as the race bathed in the south west sunshine.
Carpenter dropped breakaway companion Jacob Scott (Canyon dhb SunGod) with 25 kilometres remaining to take the victory by 33 seconds over British duo Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) and Alex Peters (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling). Stage One winner Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) came home safely within the same group and now sits 22 seconds behind Carpenter, who is the first American rider to both lead the AJ Bell Tour of Britain and to win a stage of the race.
“We had 40k to go, we had crested both of the last KoMs, we still had five minutes and there was tonnes of downhill,” said Carpenter. “It seemed like a tailwind too so at that point there’s no chance to be caught. I was falling apart at the end but I made sure to be falling apart by myself.
“In the end leading the overall is great and it’s a big bonus but we’ll see about making it through the team time trial tomorrow with my team-mates.
“We were going to hit it hard anyway, We’ve got a couple of guys who are well suited to maybe go for the overall so we’ll do our best and we’ll see what happens but it’s going to be a challenge for sure.”
Carpenter was part of a five-rider move with Scott, plus Nicolas Sessler (Global 6 Cycling), Will Bjergfelt (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) and Leon Mazzone (Saint Piran). The latter pair were distanced on the ŠKODA King of the Mountains climb of Rundlestone above Tavistock, with Sessler the next to go before Carpenter shed Scott on one of the numerous small climbs littering the stage.
With an advantage of more than four minutes as he powered on alone victory on Queen Street in Exeter looked assured but Jumbo – Visma took control and gradually brought Carpenter’s advantage down to under a minute. A strong lead out in the final kilometre from INEOS Grenadiers’ Michal Kwiatkowski for team-mate Hayter brought the 55-rider main group close but not enough to prevent Carpenter taking the overall lead.
Hayter did move into the Sportsbreaks.com Points jersey while Jacob Scott extended his lead in both the ŠKODA King of the Mountains and Eisberg Sprints classifications.
The race moves to Wales for Stage Three (Tuesday 7 September) as the 18 teams face an 18.2 kilometre time trial between Llandeilo and the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire. Van Aert has already spoken of the importance of the stage against the clock for his Jumbo Visma team who won the modern Tour of Britain’s only previous team time trial stage in 2018.