Breakaway hero Hawkins looking for more opportunities at Tour of Britain

Posted on: September 12th, 2012

Say Cheese: Hawkins gets his most aggressive rider award in Dumfries yesterday (Photo: Simon Cordner)

Say Cheese: Hawkins gets his most aggressive rider award in Dumfries yesterday (Photo: Simon Cordner)


By Brian Canty

Just over 12 months ago, Irish rider Peter Hawkins did an interview for a British cycling website and when asked what riders he admired, he deadpanned: “To be honest, I don’t really look at riders and think they’re better than me.”

One glance at the Tour of Britain yesterday and it’s clear it’s not just lip-service the tough Belfast man was spouting in the hope of impressing someone.

The IG Sigma Sport rider strengthened that conviction with a stunning performance on the third stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday – one that saw him leader on the road for most of the stage.

But the Team Sky train mowed him and his five breakaway companions down, though not before one last dig from him with 10km to go to the finish in Dumfries. He was eventually swallowed up with just seven kilometres remaining.

“Ay, I was pretty happy to be there in the break,” he told stickybottle late last night.

“The aim was to get someone from the team into the break, it hadn’t happened for us so far so we definitely had to do it (yesterday). We basically tried to cover everything, just made sure we had somebody in every move and that went well. We were covering pretty much everything and got what we wanted really.”

“It was windy all day and we went through a couple of storms and it was pretty hilly too. The roads by the Scottish border were bad and dead, quite a hard day to be out there.”

But Hawkins is nothing if not resilient. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s had to overcome glandular fever that ruled him out for a year from mid June 2009 to May 2010. A close friend, Marnix Vercruysse died of liver cancer just prior to that and few would have argued if he decided to walk away from the sport.

But he came back better than ever and now he’s in with the big fish, though he doesn’t fear them.

For his efforts yesterday he ended up with the day’s combatitivity prize, given to the most aggressive rider.

“I wanted to do a good bit of attacking to try and get that. The other guys in the break weren’t co-operating fully and I thought that maybe something could happen in the bunch behind. I knew it would of course be pretty difficult to stay away and your odds are very long. But maybe Cav could’ve come down and they [Sky] might have stopped for him because he’s close to the yellow. I tried to press on and press on as best I could and the Vacansoleil guy came with me and he was fucking strong and we were going pretty well.”
“We were up against the Sky team who were trying to set it up for Cavendish for a bunch sprint. It was always going to be difficult, no matter who that is (at the front), you know; the best guys in the world are working together. It was good publicity anyway if nothing else.”

“I was kind of expecting they’d catch us to be honest. I was never really getting my hopes up too much. I was doing the best I could. I tried to hang in and keep my position. There was a little rise near the finish and it was quite a dangerous finish so I didn’t want to risk anything.”

Though he ended up tailing off the peloton and losing just over 30 seconds, the plan doesn’t change for the rest of the week, starting today.

“I think if it’s a stage like yesterday again and I’m away then, great. Sky have got their stage win so the pressure is off them a little bit. Maybe Sky wouldn’t have been as inclined to chase had they already got a stage win before yesterday. So yeah, my plan really is, every day, try and get in the break or have one of the team in it and if I don’t, sit back, wait for the sprint and think about tomorrow.”

Speaking of sprints and his Irish team mate Sam Bennett, Hawkins was fulsome in his praise.

“We didn’t speak [yesterday] but we’ve spoken a couple of times. He’s good. On Monday he basically started his sprint the same time as I did and he finished just ahead of me so, yeah, he’s showing good form to be riding against guys like Cavendish.”


Hawkins leads the breakaway on yesterday’s stage 3 (Photo:

Hawkins leads the breakaway on yesterday’s stage 3 (Photo:


Having a chat (left) with Wiggins at the start of stage 2 (Photo:

Having a chat (left) with Wiggins at the start of stage 2 (Photo: