Mark Cavendish (Sky) made it two stages in a row at the Tour of Britain after another sprint finish rounded off a torrid day in the North of England.

The Manxman had to improvise in Blackpool as Luke Rowe powered into the final few hundred metres but had the guile to slip behind Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) and the gusto to ease past him in the finale. 

Team Sky had earlier split the peloton as fierce crosswinds tore across the flat lands on the approach to the seaside town, leaving around 25 to contest the finish. Although most of Cavendish’s main rivals made the split, none were able to come close. 

Cavendish also picked up the race leader’s gold jersey, despite his claims yesterday that he’d prefer to wear his rainbow stripes for a few more days.

Perhaps fortunately, once he’s wrung his kit dry, tomorrow’s tough and testing stage around Stoke-on-Trent will see whether he’s got the ability to keep hold of it for the rest of the week.

Welcome to Britain
The Tour of Britain has been treated to a typical British summer in 2012. We’ve had gorgeous sunshine in Ipswich, murky gloom in Knowsley, and bone-chilling rain in Dumfries. 

Awaiting the race as it made its journey South from Carlisle were buffeting winds and lashing rain, perturbing riders and journalists alike. 

Nevertheless the conditions were nothing more than another day at work for some of the British-based riders. Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) thrived in the horizontal rain and standing water to make his third break of the race, sweeping up the King of the Mountains points in the process to tighten his grip on the jersey.

He was joined by Ronan McLaughlin (An Post), Matt Cronshaw (Node4-Giordana), Niklas Gustavsson (UK-Youth), David Lelay (Saur-Sojasun) and the hirsute Dan Craven (IG-Sigma) who managed to stay away until 15km to go.

McLaughlin tried his hand twice more but the sustained tempo of the Sky train was simply too strong. His efforts did however bring him the day’s combativity prize, and the quotidian wheel of cheese that comes with it from sponsors Rouleur. 

It was a mighty sight to see the enormous Sky riders, all over six foot, at full speed with the seemingly minuscule Endura riders of Russ Downing and Jon Tiernan-Locke buzzing around the front of the bunch like birds on a buffalo’s back.

Endura maintained the pressure on Sky but the WorldTour team’s experience, endurance and comfort at such high speeds meant they were never seriously troubled. The win makes it three wins in four attempts at this year’s race for the men in black and blue. 

Tour of Britain 2012, stage four: Carlisle to Blackpool, 156.0km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky

2. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
3. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare
5. Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp
6. Russell Downing (GBr) Endura Racing
7. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Team UK-Youth
8. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin-Sharp
9. Rony Martias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
10. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky

Overall classification after stage four
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky

2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 6 secs
3. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare at 14 secs
4. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky s.t.
5. Rony Martias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 20 secs
6. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp s.t.
7. Russell Downing (GBr) Endura Racing at 22 secs
8. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin-Sharp at 26 secs
9. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp s.t.
10. Yanto Barker (GBr) UK-Youth at 27 secs

Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Jeremy Hunt

Escape group at Plumpton

Break at Shap

Mark Cavendish wins

Mark Cavendish takes the lead

Related links

Tour of Britain 2012: Coverage index

  • Mark Jones

    I think we may see a change next year with the recent increase in popularity of cycling coupled with live coverage being broadcast here and in other countries. The race is reliant on those areas that stump up the money to host a stage. Many areas will be kicking themselves this year and I’m sure we’ll see more places wanted to host a stage in the future. It’s probably also a case of better the devil you know and the race relies on the likes of Stoke and Blackpool who invest money every year – go to another area at their expense who then pull the funding after one year and then they’ll be in trouble. As time goes on I’m sure we’ll see a more varied race particularly if they continue with live coverage as sponsors will really want to showcase their areas. The good thing is that this race is in its ninth year that’s one more than the Kellogg’s which was solely reliable on one sponsor and it has got better and I’m sure it will continue to become bigger and better still.

  • Frank Green

    Its the same finishing towns every year- Blackpool, Stoke, Dumfries very dull i find. I imagine these towns are putting up the money. What about using the hills on the lancashire/yorkshire border with a finish in Rochdale or Oldham on a uphill finish.

  • Welsh Warrior

    Dont be so pessimistic JD! Viva La Tour of Britain – embrace and enjoy I say!

    Bring on Caerphilly mountain tomorrow…..the race will split up there for sure!!

  • angharad

    Minuscule is spelt with two u’s.

    So is Cavendish winning stages going to be quotidian as well as the cheese? He has won a stage race before, could he do it again?

  • JD

    That has to be the first Cavendish win that involved a sprint approach through a housing estate. Just had to be the Tour of Britain.