Marcel Kittel won the opening stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain, beating Bardiani-CSF’s Nicola Ruffoni into second place. Home favourite Mark Cavendish finished third after crashing mid-race. He will take a trip to hospital for a checkup later.
The break of the day took shape on the first lap of the race. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Jonathan Mould (NFTO), Mark McNally (An Post), Richard Handley (Rapha) made it and their advantage topped out at just under two minutes. Once the sprinters teams got to work though, there was no hope and they were brought back with 3km to go.
Giant-Shimano and Sky led the way for the majority of the day, but Cavendish sent his OPQS team to the front on the final lap. NetApp looked to lead Sam Bennett out in the final kilometre but the Irishman could only manage 12th place.
Good day for
Marcel Kittel – Did what was expected of him to take the win
Bad day for
Mark Cavendish – A mid-race crash didn’t help his chances in the closest thing to a home stage
|1||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano||2:16:35|
|2||Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF|
|3||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|4||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp|
|5||Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky|
|6||Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|7||Daniel McClay (GBr) Great Britain|
|8||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling|
|9||Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|10||Enrique Sanz (Esp) Movistar Team|
For full results and standings look here.
Stage 2: Knowsley – Llandudno (200.8km)
Liverpool was the last time the peloton see flat road for a while – the hills start tomorrow as the race heads into Wales. The route is a lumpy one but it isn’t the toughest of the race.
Three second category climbs are situated in the latter third of the race, as well as an uncategorised climb around 15km out. The final climb of the Great Orme will be decisive – either a launchpad for late attacks or a final thinning out of the peloton before the sprint.
The descent isn’t a too technical, but it is fast with sweeping bends.The final kilometre is a straight run along the seafront.
Who will win?
The hills should get rid of the pure sprinters like Kittel and Cavendish, but the stage seems tailor-made for Sky’s Ben Swift. He’s a good sprinter, but he’s better when its a tough day. Michał Kwiatkowski of OPQS is the next favourite – he’s a great all-rounder, but not as fast as Swift.
Both IAM and Bardiani-CSF have a double threat. Heinrich Haussler is a fast finisher who thrives on tough days, while Sylvain Chavanel could look to open his GC challenge with a late attack. For the Italian team, Manuel Bongiorno and Enrico Battaglin are the men most likely – both of them like the hills, but maybe the more challenging days to come will suit them more.
Movistar can look to their main GC man Ion Izagirre while they have Italian puncheur Giovanni Visconti in reserve. Finally, Lars-Petter Nordhaug is leading the way for Belkin.
**** Ben Swift, Michał Kwiatkowski
*** Haussler/Chavanel, Bongiorno/Battaglin
** Giovanni Visconti/Ion Izagirre
* Lars-Petter Nordhaug