Lotto Soudal’s André Greipel won his second stage of the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain on Wednesday, claiming victory in Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire’s first-ever stage of the modern race.

The German rider easily saw off Sacha Modolo (Team EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale) and OVO Energy Green Jersey wearer Patrick Bevin, who extended his lead at the top of the standings by virtue of his four-second time bonus on the line.

Greipel’s win, coming at the end of a 183.5-kilometre stage that started in Nuneaton, was his seventh in race history.

“The guys worked really well to keep me upfront, especially Jasper de Buyst again,” said Greipel. “My aim was to go full gas from the final corner, even though it was 300m from line – I knew that I could make it. I’m happy with another win.

“I think everybody was a bit tired from the last three days; all the main teams expected a bunch sprint and so we saved energy for the team time trial tomorrow. Even though it’s not easy to control the breakaway, together with Quick-Step Floors and Mitchelton-SCOTT we managed to make that possible today.

“When it comes down to sprints, we have a good team here, with Moreno Hofland and Jens Keukeleire, too, who worked really hard with [Quick-Step Floors’] Iljo Keisse today. I’ve got really experienced guys to set me up.”

From the start in the centre of Nuneaton to the finish on Royal Leamington Spa’s Newbold Terrace, huge crowds lined the route of the stage, with thousands of school children celebrating the start of term by watching the world’s best race past.

A six-rider break was the main feature of the stage, with Madison Genesis’ Matt Holmes taking out all three Eisberg Sprints to move into the red jersey, while Nicholas Dlamini (Team Dimension Data) retook the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey from his team-mate Scott Davies.

The final remnants of the group were reeled in on the fast approach to Royal Leamington Spa to set up a thrilling sprint finish, with Greipel taking a comfortable victory ahead of Modolo, and overall contender Bevin.

Speaking afterwards, Bevin said: “It was an interesting bunch finish, having a corner with 350m to go. It was always going to be a bit dicey, so I made the call before the stage to come out of there first. I led the sprint out from there; I wasn’t going to win it from there, but I came third and picked up bonus seconds.

“We had a plan this morning to ensure there were no surprises today. The break was quite tough to pull back; if the finish was a bit different it would have been hard to pull them back but the big, wide, windy roads did for them. My team-mates looked after me really well and we were rewarded with a bit more time.

“At the end of the day one team-mate did the majority of work today, so that won’t have a huge effect on tomorrow [in the Stage Five team time trial].|”

Bevin also takes over the Wahoo Points Jersey with a 10-point advantage over Greipel, and his BMC Racing Team will start the Stage Five team time trial in Cumbria on Thursday last of the 20 teams at 14:02.

First off on the stage from Cockermouth to Whinlatter will be JLT Condor, who will get the OVO Energy Tour of Britain’s first team time trial underway at 13:05.  The 14-kilometre test against the clock rises over 350 metres across its length, ascending Lorton Vale to finish at the Forestry Commission’s Whinlatter Visitor Centre in the heart of the Lake District.

Click here for results and jersey standings.

Highlights of Stage Four are on ITV4 at 20:00 on Tuesday 5 September with a repeat at 11:40 on Thursday 6 September on the same channel, and available on demand via the ITV Hub.