12 September 2012 | Carlisle to Blackpool 156km
Mark Cavendish took his second Tour of Britain victory in two days and with it the lead of the race on stage four from Carlisle to Blackpool.
In a stage which saw the peloton battered by wind and whipped with rain, the pressure to close down the days break of Lelay, House, Craven and McLaughlin was too much for many.
The pace set mostly by Team Sky in the closing stages not only neutralised the escapees but broke the bunch, with only 27 riders remaining in the select group which contested the final kilometres of the 156 raced.
In a carbon copy of Tuesday’s stage, Team Sky were totally dominant again and split the peloton to shreds on the approach to Blackpool before peeling off in turn and unleashing the world champion along the sea-front to wrap up his second consecutive victory.
Time bonuses at the line saw Cavendish open up a three-second lead in the general classification and take control of the IG Markets gold jersey.
The action had commenced under leaden skies in Carlisle, with King of the Mountains jersey holder Kristian House (Rapha-Condor) slipping away early once again and being joined by five further riders who built up a lead of almost seven minutes within the first 32km of racing.
That was when race leaders Orica-GreenEDGE began to monitor the situation back in the bunch, and when Team Sky and Endura leant a hand, the break’s advantage began to fall steadily.
Once the day’s three categorised climbs had been contested, House and Niklas Gustavsson (UK Youth) dropped out of the break, leaving Mathew Cronshaw (Node 4), David Le Lay (Saur–Sojasun), Dan Craven (Team IG) and Ronan McLaughlin (An Post-Sean Kelly) to battle on as a foursome.
Their days were numbered though when Bradley Wiggins and Christian Knees began drilling it on the front, and the pace that duo set in the crosswinds cut the peloton to around 25 riders before they swept up the break inside the last 8km.
It was then that Team Sky’s sprint train came into effect, and Bernhard Eisel produced a huge turn before Wiggins and Luke Rowe led out the Manxman.
Cavendish had waited patiently on Leigh Howard’s wheel, but kicked past the Orica-GreenEdge man on the closing straight before celebrating another comfortable victory.
Back on the bus, Cavendish revealed how the team had followed their plan to the letter, and was delighted with the result.
He told us: “Brad lives not far from Blackpool and the route included a lot of the roads he uses for training. He told us it was very open, and very windy, and he knew the exact place we should go on the attack. It was the perfect call.
“It was a grim day but we ploughed through and waited until that moment 22km from home to split things apart, and although it was difficult to do that with a small team, the fact Endura were riding as well made it easier.
“On those last 5km along the front we just made it so fast that nobody else could get close to us.
“We’d expected a crosswind, but in the end it felt like a tailwind, and we were flying. Luke’s going for the overall so we tried to let him get a bit of a gap like the other day, but then Leigh Howard jumped so I had to go with him, and then it was quite straightforward for me in the sprint.
"I’m really happy to have gone into the lead, and although I can’t see myself keeping the jersey, we’d like to keep it in the team.
"Luke’s going really well, so he’s up for it, and although I’ll try my hardest to stay on top, as long as the team keeps hold of it I’ll be happy.
"I’ve only got a few days left in the rainbow jersey now, so I’d like to wear that again as well."
Pos. No. Name Team Time & Deficit
1 Mark Cavendish Sky Procycling 3h 51' 33''
2 Steele Von Hoff Garmin - Sharp st
3 Leigh Howard Orica - GreenEDGE st
4 Boy Van Poppel UnitedHealthcare st
5 Daniel Schorn Team NetApp st
6 Russell Downing Endura Racing st
7 Magnus Backstedt UK Youth Cycling st
8 Sep Vanmarcke Garmin - Sharp st
9 Rony Martias Saur Sojasun st
10 Luke Rowe Sky Procycling st
Pos. No. Name Team Time & Deficit
1 Mark Cavendish Sky Procycling 17h 7' 51''
2 Leigh Howard Orica - GreenEDGE at 0' 6''
3 Boy Van Poppel UnitedHealthcare at 0' 14''
4 Luke Rowe Sky Procycling st
5 Rony Martias Saur Sojasun at 0' 20''
6 Steele Von Hoff Garmin - Sharp st
7 Russell Downing Endura Racing at 0' 22''
8 Sep Vanmarcke Garmin - Sharp at 0' 26''
9 Nathan Haas Garmin - Sharp st
10 Yanto Barker UK Youth Cycling at 0' 27''
1 Boy Van Poppel UnitedHealthcare 48
2 Mark Cavendish Sky Procycling 44
3 Russell Downing Endura Racing 44
4 Leigh Howard Orica - GreenEDGE 42
5 Luke Rowe Sky Procycling 39
6 Steele Von Hoff Garmin - Sharp 26
7 Rony Martias Saur Sojasun 23
8 Sep Vanmarcke Garmin - Sharp 18
9 Daniel Schorn Team NetApp 18
10 Sam Bennett An Post Sean Kelly 18
1 Peter Williams Node 4 - Giordana 27
2 Mathew Cronshaw Node 4 - Giordana 13
3 Rony Martias Saur Sojasun 12
4 Kristian House Rapha Condor 10
5 Niklas Gustavsson UK Youth Cycling 8
6 Jonny Clarke UnitedHealthcare 7
7 Matthias Krizek Liquigas - Cannondale 7
8 Ronan Mclaughlin An Post Sean Kelly 7
9 Peter Hawkins IG - Sigma Sport 6
10 Luke Rowe Sky Procycling 5
King of the Mountains
1 Kristian House Rapha Condor 62
2 Pablo Urtasun Euskaltel Euskadi 41
3 Richard Handley Rapha Condor 32
4 Peter Williams Node 4 - Giordana 32
5 Russell Hampton Raleigh - GAC 28
6 Bernard Sulzberger Raleigh - GAC 25
7 Niels Wytinck An Post Sean Kelly 23
8 Jack Bobridge Orica - GreenEDGE 21
9 Peter Hawkins IG - Sigma Sport 19
10 Matthias Krizek Liquigas - Cannondale 18
1 Garmin - Sharp 11h 34' 39''
2 Sky Procycling st
3 Endura Racing at 0' 9'
4 Node 4 - Giordana at 2' 57''
5 UK Youth Cycling at 3' 37''
6 Team NetApp st
7 UnitedHealthcare st
8 Saur Sojasun at 3' 46''
9 Orica - GreenEDGE at 5' 39''
10 Liquigas - Cannondale at 7' 14''