Australia’s Leigh Howard pipped Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish to win the second stage of the Tour of Britain on Monday.
Howard, riding for the Orica GreenEdge team, managed to keep Team Sky’s Cavendish at bay in a dramatic finale to the 180.7km trek from Nottingham to Knowsley Safari Park, England.
Cavendish had been led out by Bradley Wiggins and stage one winner Luke Rowe, but he did not have enough energy to overhaul Howard.
Boy Van Poppel of the Netherlands took third place and that was enough to give the UnitedHealthcare team rider the lead in the general classification.
Jack Bobridge of Orica GreenEdge and Pete Williams of Node4 broke clear on their own with 50km remaining, but with about 25km left the peloton had the leading duo in their sights and the sprint finish was on.
As the stage entered its closing moments it was Tour de France winner Wiggins out front and seemingly poised to tee up sprint expert Cavendish for the win.
Rowe took over the leadout duties, but when it came to Cavendish’s moment to strike, he appeared to get boxed in and Howard was able to escape.
“With 600m to go I led into it with Cav in my wheel,” Rowe told ITV4 television. “He said he wanted to try and let me go, and slip a few wheels back. We knew there was a bit of a dip and he’d use the run. Unfortunately, on that dip the riders switched from right to left and he got a bit chopped up. Cav’s shown how fast he was in that finish. It’s frustrating, but you could see how fast he was coming up at the line.”
TOUR OF BEIJING
Chinese fans hoping to see five-time Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador race in the Tour of Beijing are in for a major disappointment as the Spaniard is unlikely to travel halfway around the world for a “pointless” event.
An International Cycling Union rule states that World Tour points from a rider returning from a doping ban do not count for two years.
Contador won the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday after he completed a suspension following a positive test for clenbuterol.
He was scheduled to take part in the Oct. 9 to Oct. 13 Tour of Beijing, but his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team manager Bjarne Riis said the rider would not race as it did not carry any points for the team.
“It makes no sense for Alberto Contador to promote their race if we are not getting anything back from it,” Riis was quoted as telling Danish Web site Sporten.dk. “He will be a huge name over there, yet he cannot even score points. It makes no sense. Why should he go there? I cannot see why.”