Sir Bradley Wiggins nof Team Sky has this afternoon sealed his overall victory in the 2013 Tour of Britain in London, the city he grew up in. The eighth and final stage of the race was won by the man he partnered to the World Championship in the Madison in 2008, Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, in a sprint finish on Whitehall. Sam Bennett of An Post-Chain Reaction finished second in the sprint finish to today's stage, with Cannondale's Elia Viviani third.
It's the first stage race victory for Wiggins since he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France in July last year. It's also Cavendish's third successive final stage win in the Tour of Britain - in 2011, riding for HTC Highroad, he won here on Whitehall, and 12 months ago, with Team Sky, he took the last stage of the race in Guildford.
Today is Cavendish's third stage win in this year's race, and his tenth in total. Next week, he and Wiggins will support Chris Froome's bid to win the World Road Championship in Tuscany, where Wiggins is also targeting the time trial.
Six years ago, there were high hopes that Wiggins, then with Cofidis, might win the Tour de France prologue in the British capital.
That wasn’t to be – instead, it was Fabian Cancellara who wore the yellow jersey on the following day’s stage from London to Canterbury – but today it was Wiggins who reigned in London, winning his first stage race since becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France in July last year.
Team Sky needed to be vigilant today, however, with two men who posed a threat to Wiggins’ leadership of the General Classification involved in the day’s break, which got away early on in the 88km stage held on ten laps of an 8.8km circuit largely following the Thames from Parliament Square to the Tower of London.
Those men were Sergio Pardilla of MTN-Qhubeka, fifth overall with a deficit of 1 minute 16 seconds on Wiggins, and Garmin-Sharp’s Jack Bauer, 3 seconds back, the latter picking up 5 bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint to leapfrog Pardilla.
Also in the break, as he has been so often in the race, was Movistar’s Angel Madrazo, on his way to sealing the Skoda King of the Mountains classification, but also trying to pick up the Yodel Sprints jersey too.
His rival for that, Peter Williams of IG-Sigma Sport, the man wearing that jersey today, was also in the break, and seemed to have won the competition until the commissaires penalised him for what appeared to be aggressive riding at the second of the two intermediate sprints.
The jersey instead goes to Madrazo, while IAM’s Martin Elmiger wins the Chain Reaction Cycles points competition over Elia Viviani of Cannondale.
Following the final sprint, which came with just two laps remaining, Alex Dowsett of Movistar went on the attack but with Team Sky and Omega Pharma-Quick Step controlling the peloton he was never allowed much leeway.
Coming into the final two corners, Alessandro Petacchi moved to the front to set up Cavendish’s sprint, and just as happened two years ago on Whitehall when Mark Renshaw – also Omega Pharma-Quick Step-bound – performed the leadout two years ago, the British national champion never looked like being beaten.
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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.