A stage of the Tour of Britain that many thought would provide the big sort out did nothing to change the general classification but did throw up an unlikely but very worthy winner. After 112 miles of hard racing, which took in the climbs of Dartmoor, Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) sprinted to victory in the seaside town of Exmouth ahead of his teammate Mark Cavendish.
Renshaw has been the faithful lead out man at HTC for Cavendish, but today it was the turn of the quiet Australian to take the plaudits in front of large crowds enjoying the Indian summer in Britain. Whether or not the Manx Missile gifted the stage to Renshaw will be not doubt be debated by cycling fans, but Renshaw was philosophical about his win as he laughed. "I dare say he (Cavendish) wasn't giving it 110 percent, but that's bike racing. There's a lot of times when I've given him victories, so it's great to help me find a stage win."
"That's been the best part of HTC, because we share the wins around, and I think that's why we win so many races. He's been a good friend over the years and he understands the decision I've taken for next year." Renshaw went on to say that next year at Rabobank he would "be able to try my own hand."
Climbing Haytor Rocks
As the 90 riders headed out under the gaze of Exeter Cathedral in glorious sunshine, the usual attacks went, but nothing really hit the radar until Jonathan Tiernan Locke of Rapha Condor Sharp attacked at the bottom of the category one climb of Haytor Rocks after 26 miles. The move by the 26-year-old Devon home boy was the catalyst for the main breakaway of the day which brought across another 12 riders who would gain a maximum of 6:30 over the bunch and which would put Tiernan Locke into the KoM jersey at the finish in Exmouth.
The break began to loose momentum and with 15 miles to go, the French rider Damien Gaudin of Team Europcar decided it would be a good time to jump off the front and battled bravely until he was caught with two miles to go. With the bunch all back together the full up sprint was won with seeming ease by 28-year-old Renshaw.
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Stage 5 highlights
After the finish, Renshaw gave his account of the day's racing. "It was a really fast run in. Actually, it was fast from the start of the day with lots of attacks for the first hour until the group got away. I wasn't sure if it would come back to be a sprint, then 10 or 15km out when we started riding with the team on the front, it was a downhill run and the last few kilometres were difficult.
"The plan was to work for Cav, like all the time, and through the final two kilometres, I tried to keep Cav in front and made sure I was first through the corner at 250 metres and put the head down and went from there. I think I was lucky and maybe put one or two lengths into Cav through the corner plus he probably hesitated a second to give me an extra few metres advantage, and from there they just passed me after the line. I'm really happy with the victory and extremely happy to get a win here with Cav and the team, especially as the team stops this year."
Asked if he thought it could be HTC's final ever victory, Renshaw replied, "I dare say it won't be. Knowing this team and the riders they'll fight to end and it wouldn't surprise me if we win another five or six races before the end of the season."
Renshaw's podium time in Exmouth
Although it was HTC's second victory of this year's Tour of Britain, it was not all good news for the team as Alex Rasmussen did not take the start today after his contract was terminated when the team was informed that the Danish rider had missed three out of competition anti-doping tests this year, which means he may be subjected to a two-year ban on competition.
Lars Boom of Rabobank still leads the race with a 12-second advantage over Geraint Thomas of Team Sky with Boy Van Poppel of UnitedHealthcare a further two seconds behind. Tomorrow's stage from Taunton to Wells might be the last chance for a big shake up in the general classification.
The Tour of Britain stays in the southwest on Friday for stage 6 from Taunton to Wells.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.