Mark Cavendish marked his return to the Tour of Britain in style by sprinting to victory to claim the opening stage in Dumfries, Scotland.
With the tail-end of Hurricane Katia ready to lash the British Isles, the peloton, so used to the blue skies and high temperatures of the Continental summer, had to endure strong wins and heavy rain throughout the 170km route.
But there was nothing unusual about the finish, with Cavendish, competing in the race for the first time since 2007, finishing ahead of leadout man Mark Renshaw, while Rabobank’s Theo Bos completed the podium.
Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport-Specialized) and Pieter Ghyllebert (An Post) formed the day’s break and gained an advantage of more than six minutes before HTC-Highroad and Team Sky took to the front of the peloton to start the chase.
Leopard-Trek leader Jens Voigt withdrew from the race with a suspected broken finger after a crash midway through the stage, before the break was caught with 10km remaining.
And that just left Cavendish to lead home a HTC-Highroad one-two, with Sky leader Geraint Thomas beginning his overall campaign strongly by finishing fifth in the bunch gallop, while Hampton ended the day with the the mountains jersey and Ghyllebert leading the sprints classification.
1) Mark Cavendish (GB, HTC-Highroad) 4h 41m 06s
2) Mark Renshaw (Aus, HTC – Highroad) same time
3) Theo Bos (Ned, Rabobank)
4) Barry Markus (Ned, Vacansoleil DCM)
5) Geraint Thomas (GB, Sky Procycling)
6) Robert Forster (Ger, UnitedHealthcare)
7) Ben Swift (GB, Sky Procycling)
8) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank)
9) Roger Hammond (GB, Garmin Cervelo)
10) Ian Wilkinson (GB, Endura Racing)