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Tour of Britain stage one: Team Sky’s Rowe wins after Cavendish crashes

Team Sky enjoyed a victorious start to the Tour of Britain – but it was neo-pro Luke Rowe, not sprinter Mark Cavendish, who triumphed on stage one.

Luke Rowe wins stage one of the Tour of Britain

Cavendish was well positioned behind team-mates Bradley Wiggins, who returned to the peloton for the first time since winning the Tour de France, and Rowe but was one of a number of sprinters to go down in a crash inside the final kilometre.

And it was Rowe, a product of the British Cycling academy, who took advantage, beating Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) and Russell Downing (Endura Racing) to claim his first professional victory.

Rowe said: “We had the lead-out perfectly sorted for Cav and I was going to be the last man for him. It just proves that bike racing is so unpredictable. The way it turned out I just shouted to Brad ‘it’s for me’. He went full gas and I managed to out-fox the other guy and got my hands in the air.

“That was special. I’ll remember that day for a long time. That’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever raced in front of. I’ve raced for 10 years all over the world and I’ve never seen crowds like that.”

Cavendish, who could be riding one of his final races in Team Sky colours after admitting he wants to leave the British squad at the end of the season, was favourite for victory going into the 200km stage from Ipswich to Norfolk Showground.

And it was Cavendish’s Sky team-mates who set the tempo at the front of the peloton after four riders – Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp), Niels Wytinck (An Post-Sean Kelly), Rony Martias (Saur-Sojasun) and Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) – broke clear early on the stage.

The escapees opened up a maximum advantage of seven minutes but were eventually caught with 20km remaining, sparking the peloton into life in front of huge crowds waiting for a glimpse of Tour de France champion Wiggins and world champion Cavendish.

A crash on narrow bottleneck with 18km remaining caused a split in the bunch but Team Sky stayed out of trouble until Cavendish fell heavily on a sweeping bend as the race reached its crescendo, causing a number of riders, including Garmin’s Tyler Farrar, to also hit the deck.

But Rowe held off Van Poppel and Downing to ensure it was still a British rider in the leader’s jersey after earning victory and the time bonus that came with it, while former national road race champion House and Frenchman Martias were rewarded for their efforts in the breakaway by taking the King of the Mountains and sprints jerseys respectively.

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Tour of Britain stage one – result

1) Luke Rowe (GBR) – Team Sky – 4:51:05 hours
2) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling – same time
3) Russell Downing (GBR) – Endura Racing
4) Jeremie Galland (FRA) – Saur Sojasun
5) Peter Hawkins  (IRL) – Team IG-Sigma Sport
6) Rony Martias (FRA) – Saur Sojasun
7) Barry Markus (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
8) Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale
9) Jonathan Tiernan Locke (GBR) – Endura Racing
10) Ben Grenda (AUS) – Rapha Condor Sharp

General classification

1) Luke Rowe (GBR) – Team Sky – 4:50:55 hours
2) Rony Martias (FRA) – Saur Sojasun +3″
3) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – UnitedHealthcare +4″
4) Russell Downing (GBR) – Endura Racing +6″
5) Jeremie Galland (FRA) – Saur Sojasun +10″
6) Peter Hawkins (IRL) – Team IG-Sigma Sport – same time
7) Barry Markus (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
8) Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA) – Liquigas Cannondale
9) Jonathan Tiernan Locke (GBR) – Endura Racing
10) Ben Grenda (AUS) – Rapha Condor Sharp


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