LONDON (AFP) — Australia’s Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won a sprint finish against Team Sky’s Ben Swift to take stage two of the Tour of Britain in Llandudno on Monday.
Renshaw, who usually works as Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad, raced clear to win as Swift suffered the consequences of making his move too soon.
After Renshaw’s teammate Michal Kwiatkowski went on the attack on the descent of Great Orme, with 4.2km to go, the peloton was forced to go full gas to catch back to him.
After the climb of the Great Orme created significant splits in the peloton, Movistar’s Alex Dowsett tried to break away to victory inside the final kilometer, but Bradley Wiggins, working for Swift, led a group of chasers back on to their wheel on the approach to the line.
Swift then sprang forward but, with Cavendish not in contention, Renshaw covered the move and claimed the win. Kwiatkowski raised his hands to celebrate the victory and still placed sixth.
“It was a great stage, a great victory, my first for the year with Omega Pharma-Quick Step,” Renshaw told British Eurosport. “It’s always good to win, I’ve had victories here before on the Tour of Britain and it’s good to do it again.”
The 31-year-old, winner of stage five of the Tour of Britain in 2011, will now take the yellow jersey from Marcel Kittel, who lost touch with the peloton on the Great Orme.
“It was quite a fast final 30 kilometers,” Renshaw said. “Especially the last 5 kilometers with that kind of a descent. It was quite exciting for the public, I’m sure it was really spectacular to watch. It suited me very well. It was a hard little final, but I had good legs after the Tour de France. So, with a bit of good timing in the sprint it worked out quite well. We’ve got a great team here. It’s a shame Mark Cavendish crashed yesterday because who knows what could have happened, he still finished third yesterday. Normally it would have been a perfect sprint for him on my wheel. Now he’s trying to recover after taking a big hit on his thigh. It’s amazing he’s still in the race.
“But personally it’s great to reward the team with my first win in an OPQS jersey this year. I’m also proud of the fact that we had three riders in the top 10 today, with Michal Kwiatkowski and Niki Terpstra doing well in the final kilometers with me. Kwiatkowski came onto my wheel in the final. That shows what kind of class rider he is. He knows if he’s on my wheel it’s one more bike length for whoever is trying to come behind. He’s a class rider and those kinds of tactics help teams win races. It’s great to win, it’s a fantastic feeling.”
Before the day’s racing began, Sky lost Ian Stannard, who withdrew with a fractured scaphoid suffered in a crash during Sunday’s opening stage.
Cavendish continues to recover from a Stage 1 crash that caused pain in his left quadricep.
“I’ve gotten used to that feeling by helping riders like Cavendish,” Renshaw said. “I’ve dedicated myself to so many wins for other riders, so it’s really nice to get a win personally. It’s also nice to step up when our leader took a big hit. If Cav is not feeling great, he’ll tell us. Today he let us know and it was an opportunity for me. I’d like to dedicate this to him as he’s one of the biggest champions of the sport. I came to this team to help him, and even when he’s not 100 percent I’d still dedicate my effort to help him. I’m glad I could step up and execute the sprint in his place, and I’ll continue to support him and my other OPQS teammates in the next days.”