Impressive Swift edged out as Kittel races away to open Tour of Britain with victory

Cyclist Ben Swift
Cyclist Ben Swift
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Marcel Kittel emerged triumphant from a thrilling sprint finish to the first stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday, with Mark Cavendish crossing the line in third place.

Germany’s Kittel (Giant-Shimano) completed the Liverpool stage in two hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds, just ahead of second-placed Italian Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF) and Briton Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who is still recovering from shoulder surgery following his Tour de France-ending crash.

American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was fourth, with another home favourite in Rotherham’s Ben Swift coming fifth. Adam Blythe, from Sheffield, was also impressive coming home in 16th.

Swift’s compatriot, Team Sky colleague and defending champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, was safely within the peloton, finishing 74th.

Wiggins did only narrowly avoid a crash towards the end involving another British Team Sky rider, Ian Stannard.

Meanwhile, Cavendish pushed on to achieve his podium finish despite having crashed into a car earlier in the race. The incident occurred when the Manxman and team-mate Mark Renshaw were attempting to rejoin the peloton after a comfort break.

Describing it after the race, Cavendish admitted he had been in some considerable pain.

He said; “I was coming back and I was behind a car.

“Someone had to stop for a puncture so the car slammed on its brakes, and there was an island in the road. If I went right, I would hit a traffic island, so I went left and I whacked another car.

“It took me a lap to come back even because our team car couldn’t assist me immediately because it was on the front.

“At that point I wasn’t planning to sprint either, it was painful. But after a couple of laps we decided to just try anyway, but sprint seated because I was in pain.

“I still got third, but it’s a shame because I really wanted to try and win in front of the British public,” he said.

Chris Froome remains third behind overall leader Alberto Contador but the gap between the two has grown following Sunday’s 15th stage of the Vuelta a Espana, which was won by Przemyslaw Niemiec.

Pole Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) survived from the early break in the stage from Oviedo to Lagos de Covedonga to cross the line first in four hours, 11 minutes and nine seconds.

Great Britain took gold in both the elite men’s and women’s downhill competitions on the final day of the 2014 Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway. Gee Atherton won the men’s event, with compatriot Manon Carpenter the women’s winner.