Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain on Wednesday, while compatriot Bradley Wiggins remained top of the general classification.
Sprint specialist Cavendish emerged at the front of a bunch finish at the end of the stage that started in Stoke in the English Potteries before ending in Llanberis in northwest Wales.
Isle of Man racer Cavendish emerged at the front of proceedings after the peloton hauled in an 11-strong breakaway group with just 1km left in the Snowdonia National Park.
Cavendish, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team, then saw off the challenge of opening-stage winner Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Steele von Hoff (Garmin Sharp).
Afterwards, Cavendish praised teammates Iljo Keisse and Alessandro Petacchi, a former rival, for laying the foundations of his stage success.
“I am really, really happy about my victory and the super job of the guys,” Cavendish said. “Fortunately we had the entire day with Iljo in the break, so we didn’t have to ride behind.”
“The guys stayed with me the entire day. On the last climb ... I have to say I was at the limit — but the guys stayed with me and brought me back. They showed a big commitment. That is why I did my best in the sprint,” he added.
“Even Petacchi, who was still suffering from the crash of a couple days ago, wanted to be there. He really led me out in the final. He put me in the best position for the sprint,” Cavendish said. “We have been rivals for a lot of my career, but he’s a really good guy. Obviously the Tour of Britain is my home race, but he is a big factor in me coming here, because I wanted to ride with him.”
Omega Pharma-Quickstep sports director Brian Holm added: “Iljo did a great job for us today [Wednesday], we really didn’t have to work, because he was in the breakaway.”
“We just followed and won the sprint with the British champion. We knew Cav had a fair chance for the sprint. Petacchi just delivered him perfectly,” Holm said. “Cav was 10th in the TT [time trial] yesterday [Tuesday] so we knew he was in pretty good shape and riding well.”
Olympic champion Wiggins, last year’s Tour de France winner, who went to the head of the standings with a dominant display in the stage three time trial, finished in the peloton to remain in front with four stages left.