Cavendish crashes on Tour

09 September 2012 / 19:45

Team Sky rider Mark Cavendish crashed close to the finish of the opening stage of the Tour of Britain at the Royal Norfolk Showground.

Cavendish - the 2011 world champion who has expressed his desire to leave the successful British team two years before his contract ends - looked all set to have a crack at a sprint finish after the peloton had been caught heading towards the finish.

However, the 27-year-old suffered a fall along the narrow, winding lanes, as riders collided. Team Sky went on to claim the stage win as Luke Rowe, a late substitute racer, kept clear of the carnage to take the line in sweltering temperatures.

Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial gold medallist Bradley Wiggins had started the race off at Ipswich Waterfront on Neptune Quay.

A group of four - including British rider Kristian House of Rapha Condor, Rony Martias of Saur Sojasun, United Healthcare's Jonny Clarke and AN Post's Niels Wytinck - made an early break from the peloton.

As the 200-kilometre course moved up along the East Anglia coast and on past the halfway stage, they had opened up a lead of around three-and-a-half minutes over the chasing pack, which was being controlled by Team Sky and Garmin.

After passing through Great Yarmouth along South Beach Parade for the second of the three sprints, the route eventually wound back around north Norwich.

And the peloton, following good work from Team Sky's Jeremy Hunt, closed in to under two minutes behind the breakaway ahead of the final King of the Mountains category three climbs at Swanton Morley.

It was then on towards a bunch finish in the Norfolk Showground, which looked to have played right into Manxman Cavendish's hands. He had managed to stay clear of some collisions after the peloton was finally reeled in inside the closing 15 kilometres as Endura Racing cranked up the pace.

However, as the group headed for home, Cavendish was caught up in another crash to see his hopes of glory disappear. He got back on his bike and rode to the finish, able to offer a half-hearted wave to the crowd.