Tour of Britain Cycling: Mark Cavendish edged out by Howard at finish
MARK Cavendish missed out in a sprint finish as Australia’s Leigh Howard claimed victory on the second stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday as the event heads north to Scotland today.
The Orica-GreenEdge rider just held off the formidable challenge of Team Sky’s Cavendish, who was led out by Bradley Wiggins and stage one winner Luke Rowe, but did not have enough in the tank to take the win on the 180.7-kilometre trek from Nottingham to Knowsley Safari Park.
Holland’s Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) took third place and with it the lead in the general classification.
Jack Bobridge (Green Edge), Russ Hampton (Raleigh UK), Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel), Pete Williams (Node4), Richard Handley (Rapha Condor) and Matthias Krizek (Liquigas) formed an early six-man breakaway and soon established a lead of more than three minutes. Bobridge and Williams then broke clear on their own with 50km remaining, but with around 25km left the peloton had the leading duo in their sights and the anticipated sprint finish was on.
Team Sky dictated the pace with several lone breakaways coming to nothing, and as the stage entered its closing stages it was Tour de France winner Wiggins out front and seemingly poised to tee up sprint expert Cavendish – who has expressed his desire to leave Team Sky – for the win.
Rowe took over the lead-out duties, but when it came to Cavendish’s moment to strike, the Manxman appeared to get boxed in and Howard was able to escape. “With 600m to go I led into it with Cav in my wheel,” said Rowe. “He said he wanted to try and let me go and slip a few wheels back. We knew there was a bit of a dip and he’d use the run. Unfortunately on that dip the riders switched from right to left and he got a bit chopped up.
“Cav’s shown how fast he was in that finish. It’s frustrating but you could see how fast he was coming up at the line.”
The eight-stage Tour moves to Scotland today with the third stage from Jedburgh to Dumfries.
Olympic champion Wiggins, meanwhile, said he was disappointed not to be able to join his Team GB team-mates as part of the celebration parade yesterday but accepted he had to get on with his day job.
“This is our day job,” he said. “We don’t have the beauty of having a year off now because the cycling calendar is still going on.
“It would have been nice to have been there with the rest of the team but I think we’re all enjoying it this week.”
The Tour de France champion took a tumble on Sunday, along with Cavendish, when several riders were involved in collisions as the peloton swept into the narrow lanes on the final leg of the 120-kilometre (75-mile) course at the Royal Norfolk Showground.
Wiggins said he was “fine” after the crash and the team would be looking to keep hold of the yellow jersey claimed by fellow Team Sky racer Luke Rowe in his first professional stage win in Norwich.
“I think we’ve obviously got the jersey now so we’re looking to try and defend that if possible, and if it does come to a sprint, obviously help Mark again,” he said. Commenting on Cavendish’s admission that he was looking to leave Team Sky, Wiggins said: “I understand his reasons, I think we all do.”
Cavendish has said he does not feel his personal ambitions tally with those of the team and Wiggins added: “It’s very amicable so I think sometimes we’re the downfall of our own success and it’s quite something when the world champion has to leave to win races.”
l Sir Chris Hoy said yesterday he would make a final decision next summer whether to call time on his career at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The 36-year-old, who won a record-breaking sixth Olympic gold medal at London 2012, ruled out any prospect of continuing in professional cycling until the 2016 Games in Rio.
However, after yesterday’s Olympic and Paralympics Athletes’ Parade in London he said: “I think I’ll just leave it [the Commonwealth Games] ticking over this year, doing 80-90 per cent of normal training and smaller races.
“We’ll see how that goes – then, about a year out from the Games, I’ll make the decision.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west