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Kiwi and World Champions crash in Britain
Sep 10th, 12. The opening stage of the Tour of Britain took down NZ Criterium Champion Mike Northey and World Champion Mark Cavendish in separate incidents.
There was victory for Team Sky in the first stage of The UCI2.1 Tour of Britain, but it was not Mark Cavendish as most expected - it was his teammate Luke Rowe who sprinted to victory.
Rowe headed home UnitedHealthcare's Boy Van Poppel, with the two edging clear from Endura's Russell Downing in the sprint from the final corner.
The World Champion crashed with just over a kilometre to go, going down along with several other top riders. Fortunately he is ok to continue the tour, with just cuts and bruises from the late crash.
Earlier in the stage, it was NZ Criterium Champion Mike Northey and his Node 4 Giordana Kiwi teammate Rico Rogers who crashed, amidst others. Northey is hopeful the swelling on his left knee will come down enough to enable him to continue the tour tomorrow. Rodgers is also stiff after his ribs were injured in his fall. [Update: both Kiwis are expected on the start line].
Although Cavendish, Northey and other fastmen were disappointed to end up out of contention, Lowe was thrilled with the outcome.
"It was pretty incredible to win today to be honest", said the 22 year old stage winner. "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 [Bradley Wiggins] on the front and I was behind him and Cav [Mark Cavendish] 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."
Sky had worked well to pull back the advantage of a four man break that had formed not long after the departure from the huge crowds on Ipswich Waterfront that had waved The Tour off through Suffolk and Norfolk.
Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp), Jonny Clarke (United Healthcare), Rony Martias (Saur Sojourn) and Niels Wytinck (AnPost Sean Kelly) built a seven-minute lead, which was steadily whittled down over the latter 100km of Stage One.
A mid-stage crash split the bunch down to a select group of just under 40 riders, but with Cavendish, Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp Barracuda) and Downing all at the front the scene looked set for a bunch sprint on the Royal Norfolk Showground, but it was not to be.
Thanks to his sprint, Rowe now leads the race overall by 3sec from the Yodel Sprints Jersey rider Martias, for whom time bonuses earned out on the road in the break elevated him above his finishing position of 6th, with 2nd placed finisher Van Poppel a further 1sec in arrears.
Stage Two takes place from Nottingham to Knowsley Safari Park.
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