As expected, the circuit around Liverpool culminated in a bunch sprint and, as also expected, Kittel and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) were two of the main players. The pair’s supremacy was however disrupted somewhat by Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-SCF), who finished in-between them in second, forcing Cavendish to settle for third.
Britain’s Adam Blythe (NTFO Pro Cycling) also threatened the status quo as he opened his sprint very early, with a vicious acceleration saw him jump several bike lengths clear from the rest of the riders with around 300 metres to go.
But Kittel did not panic and waited a few moments to open his sprint, and managed to catch Blythe’s wheel, use his slipstream and eventually jump past him to edge out Ruffoni for the win.
Cavendish waited even longer than Kittel to start his sprint, and was unable to make any inroads on the German.
Both Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team and Kittel’s Giant-Shimano did surprisingly little work in the finale, as NettApp-Endura instead took responsibility for leading out the sprint. But their efforts were ultimately in vain, as they failed to place anyone in the top ten.
Ben Swift (Sky) also put in a decent sprint to finish fifth, while Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was fourth.
A crash occurred further back in the peloton on the finishing straight, but the big names – including Bradley Wiggins (Sky) – all managed to avoid it. Cavendish, however, was involved in an earlier crash as he hit a team car and suffered an injury to one of his legs.
Four men made up the break of the day – Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Mark McNally (AN Post Chain) and Jon Mould (NFTO Pro Cycling) and Richard Handley (Rapha Condor-JLT).
It was a good break to get in, for plenty of prizes were up for grabs. McNally takes the lead in the mountains classification having claimed maximum points of all three of the day’s climbs, while Colbrelli won all three intermediate sprints to claim the Yodel Direct Sprints Jersey.
The time bonuses acquired in these sprints also means that Colbrelli lies second in the overall classification, one second behind Kittel.
The break even came close to surviving, and were only caught with 3.5 kilometres to go. Unusually it was Wiggins who led the bunch as the catch was made, perhaps making a statement of intent to control the race, or perhaps simply ensuring that he avoided any potential crashes.
Steve Cummings (BMC) had a few kilometres earlier attacked the bunch in an attempted to catch up with the leaders, but only managed a few minutes in between both groups before being caught.
Tour of Britain 2014, stage one: Liverpool to Liverpool, 104.8km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 2-16-35
2. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
5. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
6. Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin
7. Dan McLay (GBr) Great Britain
8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
9. Nikolai Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar all same time
Overall classification after stage one
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 2-16-25
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani at 1 sec
3. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani at 4 secs
4. Jonathan Mould (GBr) NFTO at 4 secs
5. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 6 secs
6. Richard Handley (GBr) Rapha Condor Sharp at 7 secs
7. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 10 secs
8. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 10 secs
9. Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin at 10 secs
10. Dan McLay (GBr) Great Britain at 10 secs
The Sky rider is aiming to become the first person to defend the title in the modern incarnation of the
German sprinter says that he is relaxed having achieved his season's big goals.