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London (AFP) – Australian Caleb Ewan’s superb burst of sprinting saw him take the opening stage of the Tour of Britain in a photo finish on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Orica-Scott rider just edged out Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen on the line, with Team Sky’s Elia Viviani in third place in the 190km (118mi) ride from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh to the Border town of Kelso.
“We came through the finish line during the race so I got to look at the road surface and I knew it was going to be a pretty bumpy sprint,” Ewan said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to go down into my normal low sprinting position and I had to stay a bit more upright.
“It was a tough day, it was really windy and some teams were trying to split it. It is great to take the win after our team controlled the race really well all day. As soon as the breakaway went the guys went up to the front and they basically controlled the race, almost from the start to finish, so hats off to them.”
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), competing for the first time since breaking his shoulder blade in July’s Tour de France, was seven-and-a-half-minutes behind on the first day of the eight-stage race which concludes in the Welsh capital of Cardiff a week on Sunday.
There was drama when Poland’s Karol Domagalski (One Pro Cycling), in a breakaway group clear of the peloton, was knocked off his bike by a rival team car. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured and Domagalski even recovered sufficiently quickly to claim the sprinters’ jersey at the end of the stage.
Monday’s second day features the longest stage of the tour, a 210km (130.5mi) journey across northeast England from Kielder Water to Blyth.