Rowe salvages Tour of Britain stage win for Sky after Cavendish crashes
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rowe salvages Tour of Britain stage win for Sky after Cavendish crashes

by Shane Stokes at 10:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Britain
World champion ends up with torn rainbow rather than gold jersey

Luke RoweSwiftly moving to Plan B after world road race champion Mark Cavendish went down inside the final two kilometres, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) powered home to take stage one of the Tour of Britain. The Briton beat Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) in a drag race to the line at Norfolk Showground, with Russell Downing (Endura Racing) third out of the fragmented peloton.

Cavendish was close to the front when the fall happened, with Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins pulling at the time. He led the group around a right hand bend, while behind Cavendish’s front wheel appeared to skid and he went down.

Sprint rival Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was one of several who also fell, thus losing out on his own chance. The crash disrupted the already-reduced bunch, and meant few were in with a chance to win.

Rowe reacted quickly and salvaged the day for Sky, netting the opening stage plus the overall lead. “We had the lead-out perfectly sorted for Cav, I was to be the last lead-out man. This just proves bike racing is so unpredictable,” he said. “The way it turned out, I just shouted to Brad, ‘it’s for me,’ and he just went full gas. I outfoxed the other guy and, you know, hands in the air.”

It was not clear what happened to Cavendish; Rowe suggested another rider was at fault. “Somebody divebombed Cav, just coming beside him and chopping him out. But that is the sport, that is how things happen at the end of the day.”

Earlier, Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun), and Niels Wytinck (An Post Grand Thornton Sean Kelly) attacked and opened a lead of over seven minutes. House was best in the three third category mountains primes, Martias took the sprints jersey and Wytinck was most aggressive rider.

“I was planning on having an easier day today, saving my legs for another day,” House admitted after the finish, “but that is how it worked out.”

The former British national champion is delighted to be in the jersey, and doesn’t want to let it go. “It would be nice to hold on for it as long as I can. There are some big climbs ahead and they will decide the race; I’ll try to keep the jersey.”

Wytinck persisted after the others were hauled back 21.9 kilometres out, but was himself reeled in two kilometres later. The Endura Racing team took over from Sky and Garmin-Sharp, who had been chasing, and drilled it for several kilometres, splitting the bunch.

Rowe was ready to give up his chances for Cavendish but ended up being in a position to print for himself. “I think I will definitely keep the jersey for a couple of days. The last few days are really tough, we will have to wait and see, take it day by day.

“I am not ruling myself out of saying I can do a ride for GC here. Whether or not I can win it, climb with the top guys…time will tell.”

How it played out:

Huge crowds gathered at the start of stage one of the Tour of Britain, thronging Ipswich and giving the race a big send-off. Early on four riders clipped away and opened a decent advantage, with Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Niels Wytinck (An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly), Jonny Clarke (UniteHealthcare) and Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun) pulling well together.

Martias was quickest at the Yodel intermediate sprint at Melton (km. 9.2), edging out House and Wytinck. The gap continued to grow and soared to over seven minutes just before House took the first King of the Mountains prime at Snape (km. 24.9), beating Martias and Clarke into second and third.

The same finishing order settled the third category climb at Westleton (km. 49.1), where the break held a gap of over four minutes. This had dropped to three and a half minutes after 100 kilometres of racing, approximately the halfway point.

Clarke was best at the Yodel sprint at Great Yarmouth (km 105.3), leading House, Martias, and Wytinck over the prime line. Behind, the bunch ramped up the speed under the collaboration of the Sky and Garmin-Sharp squads and the gap had fallen to under one and a half minutes by the time Martinas edged out House, Wytinck and Clarke for the final Yodel sprint at Coltishall (km 140.9).

Perhaps sensing it was making the catch too soon, the peloton let the break’s lead go up to two minutes. That ensued the riders would still be clear for the final KOM of the day, where House again took the prime ahead of Wytinck and ensured he’d hold the mountains jersey tomorrow.

The bunch had put the hammer down and grew steadily closer. The break realised the game was up and sat up with 21.9 kilometres left, but Wytinck decided to kick clear before the junction was made. He lasted two more kilometres, but his legs gave way and he was hauled back.

Inside the final three kilometres, Bernie Eisel drove the bunch along for Cavendish; Luke Rowe took over with two clicks to go, but Orica Greenedge swept past and took over at the front. Sky stubbornly fought back with Wiggins moving to the head of affairs but his efforts to set Cavendish up unravelled when the Manxman went down with just over a kilometre left.

Rowe shouted to the Tour winner to keep going and, led out by him, was able to put himself in the right position to fight, and beat, Boy Van Poppel to the line.

Tour of Britain (2.1)

Stage 1, Ipswich to Norfolk Showground:

1, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) 203 kilometres in 4 hours 51 mins 5 secs
2, Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
3, Russell Downing (Endura Racing)
4, Jeremie Galland (Saur Sojasun)
5, Peter Hawkins (Team IG - Sigma Sport)
6, Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun)
7, Barry Markus (Vacansoleil - DCM)
8, Paolo Longo Borghini (Liquigas - Cannondale)
9, Jonathan Tiernan Locke (Endura Racing)
10, Ben Grenda (Rapha Condor) all same time

Rouleur Combativity Award: Niels Wytnick (An Post Sean Kelly)

IG Gold Jersey General Classification:

1, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) 4 hours 50 mins 55
2, Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun) at 3 secs
3, Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) at 4 secs
4, Russell Downing (Endura Racing) at 6 secs
5, Jeremie Galland (Saur Sojasun) at 10 secs
6, Peter Hawkins (Team IG - Sigma Sport) same time
7, Barry Markus (Vacansoleil - DCM) same time
8, Paolo Longo Borghini (Liquigas Cannondale) same time
9, Jonathan Tiernan Locke (Endura Racing) same time
10, Ben Grenda (Rapha Condor) same time

Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification:

1, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) 15pts
2, Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) 14pts
3, Russell Downing (Endura Racing) 13pts
4, Jeremie Galland (Saur Sojasun) 12pts
5, Peter Hawkins (Team IG - Sigma Sport) 11pts
6, Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun) 10pts
7, Barry Markus (Vacansoleil - DCM) 9pts
8, Paolo Longo Borghini (Liquigas - Cannondale) 8pts
9, Jonathan Tiernan Locke (Endura Racing) 7pts
10, Ben Grenda (Rapha Condor) 6pts

SKODA King of the Mountains Classification:

1, Kristian House (Rapha Condor) 12pts
2, Niels Wytinck (AN Post Sean Kelly) 9pts
3, Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun) 4pts

Yodel Sprints Classification:

1, Rony Martias (Saur Sojasun) 12pts
2, Kristian House (Rapha Condor) 9pts
3, Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) 7pts


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