Leigh Howard of Orica GreenEdge thwarted Team Sky's Mark Cavendish at the end of the stage 2 of the Tour of Britain today to make it 0 out of 2 for the Manx Missile on the sprint stages of this year's race.
The Australian jumped clear at the death and managed to hold off Cavendish who had been guided to the front of the pack and lead out by Bradley Wiggins and yesterday's stage winner, Luke Rowe.
Initially it seemed that Rowe would keep the overall leader's gold jersey for another day but he was later adjudged to have been on the wrong side of a small split in the peloton and thus to have finished one second behind the winning bunch which meant a tie at the top of the overall classification with Boy Van Poppel of United Healthcare on the same time as stage winner Leigh Howard.
Things were less complicated in the other competitions where most of the other jerseys were divided between the riders who took their chance in today's break. Three British riders, Russel Hampton of Team Raleigh, Richard Handley of Rapha Condor Sharp and Node4's Peter Williams made the six man break that stayed away for much of today's 180.7Km stage from Nottingham to Knowseley. Of the three it was Node4's Peter Williams who was the big winner picking up the sprint jersey after winning all three of the stage's intermediate sprints. His fellow escapee the Spanish rider, Pablo Urtasun of Euskaltel took all three of the day's categorised climbs to take the king of the mountains jersey.
With 50Km to go Jack Bobridge of Orica Greenedge attacked the rest of the break dropping all but Williams. However the sprinters were not to be denied and with Team Sky setting the pace at the front the pair sat up with 25Km to to.
As the field entered the final kilometres there were numerous attempted attacks but all came to nothing and as the Sky train moved smoothly in to place to deliver Cavendish to the line it seemed that the result would be as close to a formality as as a full on sprint at the end of a cycle race can be… and then there was one last attack and Cavendish was denied once again.
Stage Two, Nottingham to Knowsley, 180.7km
1) Leigh Howard, AUS, Orica GreenEDGE, 4:31:09 2) Mark Cavendish, GBR, Team Sky, same time 3) Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, same time 4) Steele Von Hoff, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, same time 5) Russ Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, same time 6) Sep Vanmarcke, BEL, Garmin - Sharp, same time 7) Wesley Kreder, NED, Vacansoleil - DCM, same time 8) Nathan Haas, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, same time 9) Sam Bennett, IRL, AN Post Sean Kelly, + 0.01 10) Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, same time
Rouleur Combativity Award: Jack Bobridge, Orica GreenEDGE
IG Gold Jersey, General Classification
1) Boy Van Poppel, NED, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, 9:22:04 2) Leigh Howard, AUS, Orica GreenEDGE, same time 3) Luke Rowe, GBR, Team Sky, + 0.01 4) Rony Martias, FRA, Saur Sojasun, + 0.04 5) Mark Cavendish, GBR, Team Sky, same time 6) Russ Downing, GBR, Endura Racing, + 0.06 7) Steele Von Hoff, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, + 0.10 8) Sep Vanmarcke, BEL, Garmin - Sharp, same time 9) Nathan Haas, AUS, Garmin - Sharp, same time 10) Peter Hawkins, IRL, Team IG - Sigma Sport, same time
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.