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.

Results

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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