Tour of Britain: Cavendish wins stage 7

Wiggins retains overall lead going into final stage

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Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won stage 7 of the Tour of Britain with a sprint into Guildford. The British road racing champion squeezed out Elia Viviani (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) on the uphill run-in to the line.

It was Cavendish's second stage win of this year's race, while overnight race leader, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) enjoyed a relatively untroubled day in the saddle to retain is lead with one stage in the race remaining.

It was Cavendish who became the toast of Guidlford for the second year running. However, he was forced to do it the hard way after it looked like his Omega Pharma team had spent their bullets in the closing kilometres.

Heading under the one kilometre to go banner Cavendish was left with just Alessandro Petacchi for company but the Italian veteran opened the throttle and briefly caused panic in the bunch when he created a small split that Cavendish's rivals were forced to chase.

Cavendish then had to open his sprint with roughly 400 meters to go, and with an uphill slog to the line, he looked vulnerable as Viviani and Ciolek tried to claw themselves back on terms.

In fact, the Cannondale sprinter looked the most likely to win as he began to draw alongside the British rider with less then 100 meters to go. However Cavendish edged out his main rival, and when Viviani conceded inside the final few meters Cavendish had almost a bike length's advantage on the line.

"I just miss-timed it a little. I saw Elia so I tried to move him across to the rough part of the road and then as he came I had to go again. I’m lucky I can dot that with a second kick. They guys worked out of their skins. I’m so lucky to hold on there. The second kick comes from my track background," Cavendish said at the finish.

The stage had been marked by a four-man escape of Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team), Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Christophe Laborie (Sojasun) and Peter Williams (Team IG-Sigma Sport). The break detached themselves from the main field early on and established a lead of over three minutes. However with Cavendish in form, and Sky willing to help control the field as well, the foursome were never allowed a foothold in the stage.

House picked up enough points to secure second overall in the king of the mountains competition and Williams dragged himself into the points ranking but when Cannondale joined the chase in the second half of the race the gap began to crumble.

As the riders approached Guildfold the break's slender lead had dropped to less than a minute, and despite a couple of late attacks, QuickStep and Cannonale would not be denied their sprint finish.

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