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Luke Rowe wins stage 1 of Tour of Britain

Stage 1 | Ipswich - Norfolk Showground - 199.6km | Sunday 9 September 2012
Report: Team Sky

Tour of Britain coverage home


Luke Rowe emerged from a crash-filled finale to take a superb first professional victory on stage one at the Tour of Britain.

The peloton had found itself split to pieces on the run into Norfolk Showground and again heading into the final kilometre with a crash involving world champion Mark Cavendish.

Rowe and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins were well-positioned on the front for Team Sky and it was the young Welsh neo-pro who held his nerve in the final metres to take an impressive win in front of a packed crowd.

The 22-year-old also became the first recipient of the IG Markets leader's jersey courtesy of bonus second on the line, Rowe having held off Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) at the finish with Russell Downing (Endura Racing) rounding out the podium places.

A number of sprinters went down after a tight right-hander coming into the park finish, riders taking to the grass to stay upright in the melee after a crash earlier had already split the bunch in two.

After the podium presentations which saw him also pull on the points jersey Rowe admitted the team had to quickly switch tactics inside the final kilometre.

“It was pretty incredible to win today to be honest. It was quite unexpected but this is my biggest win to date so I am rather happy. Coming towards the end of the race, we had brad on the front and I was behind him and Cav was sitting third because we were lining the stage up for him but I looked round when he went down and shouted to Brad it’s for me so we went full gas.

“The team did a lot of work today and I know I can do a good lead out and my responsibility is to get Cav to the finish.

“The weather was really hot today and it was a bit of a shock to the system but I've done a lot of racing abroad so I suppose I've got used to it now. I actually got called up to race around two weeks ago and its a race I've always wanted to do so winning today was pretty special.

“I really wanted to do stage 6 into Caerphilly because it’s almost in my back garden, actually Caerphilly mountains are about a mile from my house and I think my friends and family are coming over to watch.

"The support on the road today was just incredible, I've been racing for the last 10 years and the last five years all over the world but today I've never genuinely seen crowds like there was today and the faces were all so passionate about the racing and not just standing there. I've been with Team Sky for a year now and the pace was so fast I found it hard but I think I've settled in now.”

With the gold jersey now on his back Rowe is looking forward to the days ahead, adding: “I think I can keep it for a couple of days. The last few days are really tough and we’ll have to wait and see and take it day by day. I’m not ruling myself of saying that I can do a GC ride here. Whether or not I can win it and ride with the top guys time will tell.”

Earlier huge crowds had gathered in Ipswich as the 2012 edition of the race got under way with 200km on the agenda.

The four riders went away as the peloton rolled out, Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp), Niels Wytinck (An Post-Sean Kelly), Rony Martias (Saur-Sojasun) and Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) soaking up the sprint and mountain points along a spectacular fan-lined route in the south-east of England.

Back in the pack it was Team Sky setting tempo on the front, pegging the gap at a shade over seven minutes before Garmin-Sharp arrived to lend a hand with the pace-setting duties.

The gap was slowly brought back down, the quartet eventually pegged at one minute on run for home.

With 20km to go with the break were finally caught and the race sparked into action, a number of crashes in the bunch on narrow roads causing the bunch to split clean in half. At the same time Endura Racing hit the front with numbers to line things out on the run into the finish.

With sprint trains massing on the front things unravelled heading under the flamme rouge, a touch sending Cavendish down hard and causing carnage behind. The Manxman was up quickly and rolled across the line but it was still a Team Sky rider taking top honours with Rowe.

Jeremy Hunt spent huge chunks of the day on the front of the bunch and summed up the opening stage.

"It was a long hard day and we were riding for Cav but then Luke came up with the goods, which was lucky, and it worked out really well," he told ITV4.

"It was an enjoyable day, so many people were out there. It was unbelievable, I've never seen anything like it in the UK. I remember 10 years ago when this race started there was no-one watching the race. Now it's unbelievable.

On the day he announced his intention to retire at the end of the year Hunt added: "I'm just here, I'm enjoying it, riding on the front and reminiscing about the old days. It's great."

Photos to follow

Results

1. Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, 4:51:05

2. Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, same time

3. Russell Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, same time

4. Jeremie Galland, FRA, Saur Sojasun, same time

5. Peter Hawkins, IRL, Team IG - Sigma Sport, same time

6. Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, same time

7. Barry Markus, NED, Vacansoleil - DCM, same time

8. Paolo Longo Borghini, ITA, Liquigas - Cannondale, same time

9. Jonathan Tiernan Locke, GBR, Endura Racing, same time

10. Ben Grenda, AUS, Rapha Condor, same time

Rouleur Combativity Award

Niels Wytnick, AN Post Sean Kelly

IG Gold Jersey, General Classification

1. Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, 4:50::55

2. Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, + 0.03

3. Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare, + 0.04

4. Russell Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, + 0.06

5. Jeremie Galland, FRA, Saur Sojasun, + 0.10

6. Peter Hawkins, IRL, Team IG - Sigma Sport, same time

7. Barry Markus, NED, Vacansoleil - DCM, same time

8. Paolo Longo Borghini, ITA, Liquigas Cannondale, same time

9. Jonathan Tiernan Locke, GBR, Endura Racing, same time

10. Ben Grenda, AUS, Rapha Condor, same time

Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification

1. Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, 15pts

2. Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, 14pts

3. Russell Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, 13pts

4. Jeremie Galland, FRA, Saur Sojasun, 12pts

5. Peter Hawkins, IRL, Team IG - Sigma Sport, 11pts

6. Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, 10pts

7. Barry Markus, NED, Vacansoleil - DCM, 9pts

8. Paolo Longo Borghini, ITA, Liquigas - Cannondale, 8pts

9. Jonathan Tiernan Locke, GBR, Endura Racing, 7pts

10. Ben Grenda, AUS, Rapha Condor, 6pts

SKODA King of the Mountains Classification

1. Kristian House, GBR, Rapha Condor, 12pts

2. Niels Wytinck, BEL, AN Post Sean Kelly, 9pts

3. Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, 4pts

Yodel Sprints Classification

1. Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, 12pts

2. Kristian House, GBR, Rapha Condor, 9pts

3. Jonny Clarke, AUS, UnitedHealthcare, 7pts

 

 


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