Tour of Britain, stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones>>

Luke Rowe took the first professional victory of his career at the Norfolk Showgrounds this afternoon at the end of a frantic opening stage in this year’s Tour of Britain.

The Sky rider took full advantage of several crashes in the closing part of the stage, including one in the final kilometre which saw Rowe’s team-mate Mark Cavendish and Garmin-Sharp’s Tyler Farrar hit the deck.

Rowe also takes the race lead by virtue of his victory, although Cavendish et al will be given the same time as the Welshman because the decisive incident happened within the final 3km.

Compared to last year’s cold and wet start, the 2012 race got off to the best possible start here; huge crowds lined the sun-soaked route from the start in Ipswich, all seeking to gatch a glimpse of peloton that included both the world champion and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

They would have got an extremely good view of Kristian House (Rapha-Condor), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Rony Martias (Saur-Sojasun) and An Post’s Niels Wytinck, who broke away in the opening kilometres of the stage.

In previous editions of the race – namely 2005 and 2006 – an opening day breakaway has shaped the overall picture of the Tour.

However, despite quickly amassing a lead of over seven minutes on the roads from Suffolk into Norfolk, the four leaders were always kept in check by the Sky-led peloton. Martias lost touch shortly before the field predictably caught the leading trio with 20km remaining.

This wasn’t a straight-forward run into the finish, however, as a crash through a bottleneck with around 18km remaining split the bunch up significantly. Sky and Endura stayed well clear, while Node4-Giordana’s Kiwi sprinter Rico Rogers was one of the unlucky ones caught out.

Everything indicated towards a Cavendish victory. He had positioned himself well throughout the run-in, even when Orica-GreenEdge tried to disrupt Sky’s lead-out train.

However, on a sweeping bend into the Norfolk Showgrounds, Cavendish feel heavily while in third wheel (behind Wiggins and Rowe) which caused a domino effect behind.

Rowe was the biggest beneficiary, as he raced away to take the victory, with Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) and Russell Downing (Endura Racing) completing the top-three.

House’s reward for being part of the 180km-long break is the lead in the Skoda King of the Mountains competition, with Martias taking the Yodel Sprints jersey.

Tour of Britain 2012, stage one: Ipswich to Norfolk Showgrounds, 199.6km
1. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky in 4-51-05

2. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare
3. Russell Downing (GBr) Endura Racing
4. Jeremie Galland (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
5. Peter Hawkins (GBr) IG-Sigma Sport
6. Rony Martias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
7. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
9. Jon Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura Racing
10. Ben Grenda (Aus) Rapha-Condor all at st.

IG Markets general classification after stage one
1. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky in 4-51-05
2. Rony Martias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 0-03
3. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare at 0-04
4. Russell Downing (GBr) Endura Racing
5. Jeremie Galland (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 0-10
6. Peter Hawkins (GBr) IG-Sigma Sport
7. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
9. Jon Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Endura Racing
10. Ben Grenda (Aus) Rapha-Condor all at st.

Yodel Sprints classification
1. Rony Martias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun

Chain Reaction Points classification
1. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky

Skoda King of the Mountains classification
1. Kristian House (GBr) Rapha-Condor

Crowds at the Sky bus

Bradley Wiggins rolls in to the line

Mark Cavendish and crash injuries

Luke Rowe takes the stage win

Luke Rowe in yellow

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Stage one video preview

Related links

Tour of Britain 2011: Coverage index


  • jimmy the fish

    the ITV coverage was dire. Gaps in the commentary (unusual from Mr. Porter) and general confusion as to what was going on at the elongated podium presentation. Will someone tell the Wash ‘n’ Go kid that the bucket loads of shampoo he gets is for his hair, not to his tyres, then perhaps he won’t fall off as often

  • Evergreen

    I don’t believe the roads were the problem – they use similar roads on the continent with far larger fields; it’s racing and there are crashes. I do agree though that the podium and the TV coverage seemed very amateurish.

  • Mark Jones

    The ITV4 coverage was a bit disappointing and taking an ad-break coming into the final 11/12 kilometres was just shocking. I don’t understand why there was no helicopter shots as I understood Mike Smith was covering the race. The whole podium and post race interviews were just incredibly amateur. Hopefully Ned will bring some degree of professionalism to the show tomorrow, but we’ll still have Hugh Porter’s commentary and his obsession with track cycling. As for trying not to talk in cycling parlance well that is just dumming down for the mass audience and if they want to know what the peloton is then they can quickly google it. ITV4 do a great job with Le Tour and La Vuelta, but this was a bit amateur.

  • geegee

    They’re trying to maime the riders on such roads. Camera bikes can hardly do their job; no helicopter (budget???). Commentators patronising and no idea who’s who .King of the mountains? In the Fens?
    A very boring stage

  • JD

    So why has Cav crashed so often this season?

    a. All sprinters crash occasionally
    b. Other riders get too close to him because of who he is
    c. Sky often lets him fend for himself without a leadout
    d. A conspiracy. His bike has a radio-controlled tipping mechanism

  • William Hirst

    I agree with Mick W.The coverage was just a bit pants. The cameras decided to fixate on Cav’s crash, so we only got the very last bit of the sprint, and the fact that Hugh Porter didn’t even know who had won wasn’t much help.

  • geegee

    Agree the lanes were dangerously narrow and as for parked cars in villages making the route narrow.
    I watched on Eurosport International, very few adverts but a naff commentry by a couple of ex’s who didn’t know who was who. Photography needs improving, no helicopters (budget???)

  • Keith Bingham

    And will commentator Hugh Porter please refrain from talking to viewers as if we’re all
    school children!
    What brought down Cav? Did his wheel slip on gravel? Was he shunted into the rider in front?
    Come on ITV4 – you had hours to resolve this before you put the recorded highlights at 8pm,
    yet you had no answers.

  • Mick W

    All a bit shambolic I thought . Some of those lanes wouldn`t be used in a 3rd Cat. Race ! …and as for taking a 5 minute Ad Break in the last few kilometres in the liveTV coverage ?… ( WTF as they say ! ) . I can only hope it will improve from this inauspicious start.