Italian Elia Viviani won the first stage of the Tour of Britain on Sunday as home sprinter Mark Cavendish made a rare mistake to miss the chance to cross the line first.
Cavendish had the platform laid for him by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates on the first ride, from Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland, but he was boxed in and slipped off the wheel of his Italian colleague Alessandro Petacchi, who went on alone to follow Viviani across the line.
Sojasun’s Anthony Delapace staged a one-man breakaway with just over 40km left but the Frenchman was pulled back by the peloton, allowing Viviani to claim the victory.
It was a disappointment for Cavendish on a day that saw the riders given the full delights of the inclement Scottish weather, and he was not alone in failing to give the British fans something to cheer about.
Movistar’s Alex Dowsett made an attack that bore no fruit, although Sir Bradley Wiggins is likely to feel satisfied after crossing the line just nine seconds off the pace for Team Sky.Surviving a crash 200 metres from the end may well have been of even greater pleasure to Wiggins, with the rest of his team-mates just a second behind him in the peloton. Cavendish was grouped in with the rest come the end, with Viviani timed as being four seconds quicker than Petacchi.
Today’s second stage takes the riders around the Lake District as they start in Carlisle and finish in Kendal.
Meanwhile, American Chris Horner, nicknamed “Grandpa” by his peers, created more than one landmark yesterday when he won the Vuelta a Espana at the age of 41.Horner is the first rider from the United States to win cycling’s third Grand Tour. Andy Hampsten won the Giro d’Italia in 1988 and Greg LeMond took the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990.
At almost 42, Horner is also the oldest Grand Tour winner by a hefty margin. The father of three, who lives in Bend, Oregon, outstrips the Vuelta’s oldest previous winner, Tony Rominger of Switzerland in 1994, by nine years, and he is almost six years older than Firmin Lambot of Belgium was in 1922, when he won the Tour de France for the second time.
“How long will I continue racing? I have no idea. At least two or three years would be good,” Horner said before the start of yesterday’s final stage. “If my legs are still turning the same way, I will continue. But I hope people appreciate everything I’ve done; it’s so complicated to get to this level. This is the hardest victory of my career so far.”
Horner, a professional for 19 years, who currently rides for RadioShack, does not yet have a contract for next year.