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Viviani sprints to stage 1 victory at Tour of Britain

The Cannondale rider beats Petacchi, Ciolek in a tight finish

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LONDON (AFP) — Italy’s Elia Viviani (Cannondale) won the first stage of the Tour of Britain on Sunday as Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) missed the chance to take the sprint finish.

Cavendish had the platform laid for him by his teammates on the first ride from Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle, but he was boxed in and slipped off teammate Alessandro Petacchi, who went it alone to follow Viviani across the line. Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) placed third.

Sojasun’s Anthony Delapace had looked to go it alone with a breakaway with just over 40 kilometers of the 210km stage left, but he was pulled back and Viviani took it.

Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is likely to feel satisfied after crossing the nine seconds back.

In fact, surviving a crash 200 meters from the end may well have been of greater pleasure to Wiggins, with the rest of his teammates just a second behind him in the peloton.

Cavendish was grouped in with the rest at the end, with Viviani timed as being four seconds quicker than Petacchi.

Monday’s second stage takes the riders around the Lake District as they start in Carlisle and finish in Kendal.

Wiggins’ teammate Ian Stannard admitted there had been a conscious effort to keep the Olympic gold medallist out of trouble.

“It was a long old day today and the conditions meant it was pretty hard work as well,” Stannard said on Sky’s website. “For us it was all about protecting Bradley, especially on that tight finishing circuit. Bernie [Eisel] deserves a mention because he controlled the pace for most of the day before [Mathew] Hayman took over at the end.

“All in all I think we did a really good job and it was nice to see Brad pick up a bonus second as well.”