Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won in London on the final stage of the Tour of Britain, while Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) secured the overall title.
The final day of the race saw a split stage take place in the capital, with British national champion Wiggins triumphing in the 8.8km individual time trial, before Kittel edged out Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in a bunch sprint at the end of a 88.8km circuit race.
Van Baarle moved into the leader’s jersey at the end of stage seven and successfully defended his advantage to win the title by ten seconds from Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), with defending champion Wiggins a further 12 seconds back in third.
Wiggins went into the time trial in seventh overall but delivered on his tag as favourite for the stage by winning in nine minutes and 51 seconds – at an average speed of 53.6kph. Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) finished second, eight seconds behind Wiggins, and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) took third.
Van Baarle took a 19-second lead in the stage and finished 11th, 25 seconds behind Wiggins, to hold off the challenge of Kwiatkowski, who was sixth fastest.
“I’m pleased to have won the time trial in London,” said Wiggins. “That was obviously the goal at the start of the week as well as the GC. I’m up to third now so it’s not a bad defence of the title. I’m just pleased to be back in London racing and winning.
“I came in a bit short of race days. I’ve had 35 days ahead of the start. I certainly felt I was lacking a bit at the start of the week but I’ve just got better every day. I feel like I’ve started to come into some good shape at the end of it. It’s been probably the toughest Tour of Britain I’ve ridden.”
Meanwhile, former yellow jersey wearer Alex Dowsett (Movistar) attacked almost from the gun in what proved to be an aggressive circuit race, going clear in a six-man move which was reeled in, before a five-rider break of Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura), Mark McNally (An Post-Chainreaction), Chris Latham (Great Britain), Liam Holohan (Madison-Genesis) and Cummings was allowed to go clear.
The escapees were rarely let out of sight by the peloton on the fast circuit, however, and the moved was brought back with 5.5km remaining to tee-up a bunch sprint.
That setup a frantic finish which pitted Kittel against Cavendish and the German came past the Manx Missile to win by inches to claim his sixth victory of 2014 on British and Irish roads, having previous triumphed on stages two and three of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast and Dublin, stages one and three of the Tour de France in Harrogate and London, and stages one and 8b of the Tour of Britain in Liverpool and London.
“The lead-out was great today and that made the win possible,” said Kittel. “To start and finish the race with a win is really nice, especially here in London again. It has been a good week, hard racing but as a team we have raced well and it should set us up well for the races still to come at the end of the season.
“It worked out really well for us at the end today. We waited late to move up to the front on the right as planned and then Tom [Veelers] took me round the top corner before dropping me off in a perfect position. It was a hard sprint but I had enough to come back at the end and hold on. It’s a nice was to end the week here.”
Van Baarle finished safely in the bunch to win the overall title in his first year as a professional and the 22-year-old said: “I like these kind of stage races very much – not too long – but at the start of the week when I saw the list of riders, guys like Wiggins and Kwiatkowski I knew it was going to be very hard. I was hoping for perhaps top ten.
“It’s been a very hard race, the roads are heavy, lots of little steep climbs but also the six man teams is a factor. It makes it really exciting as we saw in the stage of Alex Dowsett on Friday when the peloton were pulling and pulling and could not catch the break. That ride inspired me a little bit for our break on Saturday.
“In the future I would like to develop into a Classics rider – Roubaix and Flanders – and also races like this. I am probably too heavy to be a Grand Tour rider.”
Tour of Britain 2014 – general classification
1) Dylan Van Baarle (NED) – Garmin-Sharp – 32:22:50 hours
2) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +10″
3) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky +22″
4) Edoardo Zardini (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF +37″
5) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +42″
6) Jon Izagirre Insausti (ESP) – Movistar +46″
7) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – IAM Cycling +50″
8) Alex Dowsett (GBR) – Movistar +54″
9) Jan Barta (CZE) – NetApp-Endura +1’09”
10) Dylan Teuns (BEL) – BMC Racing +1’10”