Tour de France sprint star Mark Cavendish took victory on his return to The Tour of Britain after four years away, sprinting to victory at Whitesands in Dumfries.
Cavendish led home teammate Mark Renshaw for a HTC Highroad one-two, with Rabobank’s Theo Bos coming third on the opening stage of The Tour of Britain, the UK’s biggest professional cycle race.
Thanks to his victory, Cavendish takes an early four second lead in the Overall General Classification through time bonuses, ahead of Renshaw and Goss, pulling on the new-for-2011 IG Markets Gold Jersey and also collecting The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey.
After their exploits in a day long break, Russell Hampton and Pieter Ghyllebert take the Skoda King of the Mountains and Yodel Sprints Jerseys respectively, with Vacansoleil’s Barry Markus the early leader in the UNISON Young Rider Classification.
Hampton and Ghyllebert escaped early on in the stage, as The Tour departed from a packed Peebles along the Tweed Valley to the Yodel Sprint at Innerleithen.
The two steadily built their lead, collecting the points and bonuses at the various primes, including the opening Skoda King of the Mountains climb of 2011 at Megget Hill, but all the time their advantage was marshaled by a peloton led throughout the day by HTC and Sky.
Motorpoint’s Peter Williams briefly attempted to bridge the gap between them, but to no avail and was swallowed back up before the race reached the first climb.
In wet and blustery conditions it was a heroic effort by both riders to stay away for so long, and they were cheered on their way by large and enthusiastic crowds en route, despite the conditions.
In the end though their advantage was finally extinguished on the run back through the Dumfries & Galloway countryside to the finish in Dumfries making a sprint finish inevitable.
Heading through the final turn, Renshaw and Cavendish emerged explosively from behind the Rabobank leader, with the British rider surging across the line, comfortably ahead of Renshaw and Bos.
“It’s incredible to win the first stage and get the leaders jersey,” said stage winner Mark Cavendish.
“If the weather had been better we would have been a bit quicker but I think it would still have been the same result.
“Hopefully it will be a sprint again tomorrow,” continued the first ever wearer of the IG Markets Gold Jersey. “I am going to try and defend the jersey and try and get another stage win.
“We had wicked support today. The amount of cheers and banners along the stage was brilliant. Super encouraging. You wouldn’t expect this is Britain and it’s very different to when I last raced here in 2007. It’s very nice. This event is certainly growing.”
The Tour of Britain, Stage One, Peebles to Dumfries Results
1) Mark Cavendish Team HTC Highroad 4h 41m 06s
2) Mark Renshaw Team HTC Highroad same time
3) Theo Bos Rabobank same time
4) Barry Markus Vacansoleil DCM same time
5) Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling same time
6) Robert Forster UnitedHealthcare same time
7) Ben Swift Sky Procycling same time
8) Lars Boom Rabobank same time
9) Roger Hammond Garmin Cervelo same time
10) Ian Wilkinson Endura Racing same time
Stage One Combativity Award: Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport – Specialized)
The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Classification, after Stage One
1) Mark Cavendish Team HTC Highroad 15pts
2) Mark Renshaw Team HTC Highroad 14pts
3) Theo Bos Rabobank 13pts
Skoda King of the Mountains Classification
1) Russell Hampton Sigma Sport – Specialized 12pts
2) Pieter Ghyllebert AN Post – Sean Kelly 9pts
3) Alex Dowsett Sky Procycling 2pts
Yodel Sprints Classification
1) Pieter Ghyllebert AN Post – Sean Kelly 15pts
2) Russell Hampton Sigma Sport – Specialized 9pts
3) Lars Boom Rabobank 3pts
UNISON Best Young Rider Classification
1) Barry Markus Vacansoleil DCM 4h 41m 06s
2) Jonathan McEvoy Motorpoint Pro Cycling same time
3) Mark McNally AN Post – Sean Kelly same time