Bradley Wiggins won his home Tour of Britain on Sunday as compatriot Mark Cavendish took his third stage victory of the race.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s sprint specialist Cavendish surged away from An Post-Chain Reaction Cycles-Sean Kelly’s Sam Bennett of Italy and Italian rider Elia Viviani of Cannondale Pro Cycling Team to take victory in the closing stages of a race that culminated in Whitehall, London.
Team Sky’s Wiggins, Britain’s Olympic and Tour de France champion last year, finished in the chasing pack to secure overall victory and take the gold jersey.
Switzerland’s Martin Elmiger was second overall, the Team IAM Cycling rider 26 seconds adrift of Wiggins, with Simon Yates of the Great Britain under-23 team in third.
“The feeling at the moment is more just relief than anything else,” Wiggins said after his first stage triumph since last year’s Tour de France. “I said I wanted to win it. It is pressure for the whole week.”
“Until you cross the line, you just don’t know. It’s all right to think it’s a bit of a ceremony round London, but it certainly isn’t,” he said. “You cross the line, you’re pumped up. It’s relief that you’ve finished and fulfilled it for your team and your teammates.”
However, Wiggins will not have much time to savor this win, with his thoughts now turning to tomorrow’s UCI Road World Championships time trial in Italy
“It’s a bit like the Tour with the Olympics. Win the Tour one day, the next day you’re thinking about the Olympics,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cavendish, who won the concluding stage of the Tour of Britain for a third successive year, said: “It’s been incredible, to be able to win the stage again in London.”
The Isle of Man rider thanked Alessandro Petacchi, a former rival turned teammate, for his support.
“His road sense is like something I’ve never seen before,” he said.
“He’s super smooth, super intelligent, super calm. He keeps me calm. I haven’t had this since I worked with [Mark] Renshaw and it’s exactly the same with Alessandro. I don’t really have to do anything, I just follow a wheel that’s smooth as silk and go with 200m to go,” Cavendish added.