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HTC-Highroad sprinter back in race leader's jersey on his home tour...

Mark Cavendish, who a fortnight today will be aiming to win the world champion's rainbow jersey in Copenhagen, has got his final preparations off to an ideal start by winning the opening stage of the 2011 Tour of Britain in a sprint finish in Dumfires. The win puts the HTC-Highroad sprinter, who won the Prologue and Stage 1 in his last participation in the race in 2007, into the race leader's gold jersey, sponsored by IG Markets.

 

Cavendish, yet to confirm the team he will ride for during 2012 but strongly linked with a move to Team Sky, was followed over the line by his leadout man, Mark Renshaw, who is heading to Rabobank next season. The Dutch team provided the man who took third place today, Theo Bos.

Around 10 kilometres from the end of what had been a wet and windswept stage in the Scottish Borders, Russell Hampton of Sigma Sport and Peter Gyhllebert from the An Post, who had got into a break almost the moment the flag dropped in Peebles this morning to signal the start of racing, were swept up ahead of the bunch finish.

The white jerseys of HTC-Highroad’s leadout train, so prominent in the latter part of sprint stages these past few years but set to disappear from the peloton at the end of the season, were to the fore as the team set up Cavendish for the win as the team continued its stunning form in the race, which has seen Michael Albasini and Edvald Boasson Hagen take the overall in the past two years.

Afterwards, the 26-year-old from the Isle of Man said: “It’s incredible to win the first stage and get the leader’s jersey. If the weather had been better we would have been a bit quicker but I think it would still have been the same result.

“Hopefully it will be a sprint again tomorrow,” he continued. “I am going to try and defend the jersey and try and get another stage win.

The weather didn’t deter big crodws from turning out to cheer on the riders, however, and their presence was appreciated by the stage winner.

“We had wicked support today,” he reflected. “The amount of cheers and banners along the stage was brilliant. Super encouraging. You wouldn’t expect this is Britain and it’s very different to when I last raced here in 2007. It’s very nice. This event is certainly growing.”

While the two men who had spent most of the day at the front of the race were to be denied contesting the final victory, each got the reward of being called up to the podium to be presented with the jerseys they will wear tomorrow; Hampton is the first rider to top the mountains classification in this year’s race and also picking up the combativity prize, while Gyhllebert leads the sprints competition.

Following the stage, Hampton said: “That was really hard today. Most of the day was a headwind and a very big one at that so with only two men it was a hard day out. It was worth it in the end, really big for our team and the icing on the cake was to come away with a jersey.”

He added that it was “really good” to get the combativity award, which he said proved that “all that hard work pays off,” concluding, “I just hope that I can carry on for the rest of the week now.”

Leopard Trek’s Jens Voigt, meanwhile, yesterday confirmed as having signed a one-year extension to his contract with the team, which will race next season as RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, was taken to hospital with a suspected broken finger and will take no further part in the race.

The Tour of Britain Stage One Preliminary Results, Peebles to Dumfries, 170.3km 
1) Mark Cavendish (GB, HTC - Highroad) 4hrs 41mins 06
2) Mark Renshaw (Aus, HTC - Highroad) All at same time
3) Theo Bos (Ned, Rabobank)
4) Barry Markus (Ned, Vacansoleil DCM)
5) Geraint Thomas (GB, Sky Procycling)
6) Robert Forster (Ger, UnitedHealthcare)
7) Ben Swift (GB, Sky Procycling)
8) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank)
9) Roger Hammond (GB, Garmin Cervelo)
10) Ian Wilkinson (GB, Endura Racing)

Combativity Award: Russell Hampton (GB, Sigma Sport - Specialized)
 Overall General Classification, after Stage One 
1) Mark Cavendish (GB, HTC - Highroad) 4hrs 40mins 56

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Classification, after Stage One 
1) Mark Cavendish (GB, HTC - Highroad) 15pts
2) Mark Renshaw (Aus, HTC - Highroad) 14pts
3) Theo Bos (Ned, Rabobank) 13pts
4) Barry Markus (Ned, Vacansoleil DCM) 12pts
5) Geraint Thomas (GB, Sky Procycling) 11pts
6) Robert Forster (Ger, UnitedHealthcare) 10pts
7) Ben Swift (GB, Sky Procycling) 09pts
8) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 08pts
9) Roger Hammond (GB, Garmin Cervelo) 07pts
10) Ian Wilkinson (GB, Endura Racing) 06pts

Skoda King of the Mountains Classification, after Stage One 
1) Russell Hampton (GB, Sigma Sport - Specialized) 12pts
2) Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel, AN Post) 9pts
3) Alex Ramussen (Den, HTC - Highroad) 2pts
= Alex Dowsett (GB, Team Sky) 2pts
= Steve Cummings (GB, Team Sky) 2pts

Yodel Sprints Classification, after Stage One 
1) Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel, AN Post) 15pts
2) Russell Hampton (GB, Sigma Sport - Specialized) 9pts
3) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 3pts
= Mathew Hayman (Aus, Sky Procycling) 3pts
5) Peter Williams (GB, Motorpoint) 2pts

UNISON Best Young Rider, after Stage One 
1) Barry Markus (Ned, Vacansoleil DCM)

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.