Rowe takes British opener
Cavendish down in late crash
Last Updated: 09/09/12 7:06pm
Rowe: First pro victory
Team Sky's Luke Rowe emerged from a crash-filled finale to take a superb first professional victory on stage one at the Tour of Britain.
The peloton had found itself split to pieces on the run into Norfolk Showground, and again heading into the final kilometre, with a crash involving world champion Mark Cavendish.
Rowe and Tour de France-winner Bradley Wiggins were well-positioned on the front for Team Sky and it was the young Welsh neo-pro who held his nerve in the final metres to take an impressive win in front of a packed crowd.
The 22-year-old also became the first recipient of the IG Markets leader's jersey courtesy of bonus second on the line, Rowe having held off Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) at the lin with Russell Downing (Endura Racing) rounding out the podium places.
A number of sprinters went down after a tight right-hander coming into the park finish, riders taking to the grass to stay upright in the melee after an earlier crash had already split the bunch in two.
One to remember
After the podium presentations, which saw him also pull on the points jersey, Rowe admitted the team had to quickly switch tactics inside the final kilometre.
"That (crowd) was special. I'll remember that day for a long time. That's the biggest crowd I've ever raced in front of."
Luke Rowe Quotes of the week
"We had the lead-out perfectly sorted for Cav and I was going to be the last man for him," he said.
"It just proves that bike racing is so unpredictable. The way it turned out I just shouted to Brad, 'it's for me'. He went full gas and I managed to out-fox the other guy and got my hands in the air.
"That (crowd) was special. I'll remember that day for a long time. That's the biggest crowd I've ever raced in front of. I've raced for 10 years all over the world and I've never seen crowds like that.
With the gold jersey now on his back Rowe is looking forward to the days ahead, adding: "I think I can keep it for a couple of days. The last few days are really tough and we'll have to wait and see and take it day by day. I'm not ruling myself of saying that I can do a GC ride here. Whether or not I can win it and ride with the top guys time will tell."
Earlier huge crowds had gathered in Ipswich as the 2012 edition of the race got under way with 200km on the agenda.
The four riders went away as the peloton rolled out, Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp), Niels Wytinck (An Post-Sean Kelly), Rony Martias (Saur-Sojasun) and Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) soaking up the sprint and mountain points along a spectacular fan-lined route in the south-east of England.
Back in the pack it was Team Sky setting tempo on the front, pegging the gap at a shade over seven minutes before Garmin-Sharp arrived to lend a hand with the pace-setting duties.
The gap was slowly brought back down, the quartet eventually pegged at one minute on run for home.
With 20km to go with the break were finally caught and the race sparked into action, a number of crashes in the bunch on narrow roads causing the bunch to split clean in half. At the same time Endura Racing hit the front with numbers to line things out on the run into the finish.
With sprint trains massing on the front things unravelled heading under the flamme rouge, a touch sending Cavendish down hard and causing carnage behind. The Manxman was up quickly and rolled across the line but it was still a Team Sky rider taking top honours with Rowe.