This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Elia Viviani (Cannondale) won the opening stage of the Tour of Britain, beating Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) to the line after 201km of racing from Peebles to Drumlanrig Castle.
The Italian timed his sprint to perfection, coming through to take the win as a number of sprinters found themselves either boxed in or too slow to react.
Britain's Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was too far back to contest the sprint for the win but finished safely in the main back. However a crash on the line did take down a number of riders.
Kristian House (Rapha Condor), Christophe Laborie (Sojasun), Aaron Gate (AN Post Chain Reaction), Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport) and Ben Greenwood (IG Sigma Sport) formed the earlier stage move.
They built up a lead of over five minutes over the undulating terrain. Weather conditions played their part, with rain and blustery winds hammering the riders and with 100km to go the five riders had lost almost half of their lead.
Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep commanded the head of the peloton for much of the stage but when the leaders were closed to within 50 seconds with 44km of racing remaining Sojasun played their second card, with Anthony Delaplace skipping away from the bunch and then the break.
The Frenchman was not on the original start list for the race but his intent was a clear indication of why his team had brought him as he built up a lead approaching 45 seconds. Out of the saddle through the Scottish countryside, Omega ushered Iljo Keisse into position at the front of the peloton. The Belgian track specialist was given reinforcements in the form of Bernhard Eisel and his Sky teammates but Delaplace’s urgency through the tight, twisting road meant that his advantage reached 1:32 with less than 30km remaining.
As he approached Drumlanrig Castle, Sky’s efforts had reduced the Frenchman’s lead to just over a minute. However as the Frenchman began to lose his momentum his lead dropped to 28 seconds with 15km remaining.
When Delaplace was caught, Alex Dowsett (Movistar) launched a surprising attack with 12km to go. The British time trial champion was reeled in soon after but his move brought a number of teams into play, with Garmin and Cannondale moving to the front.
It was Garmin who dominated the front of the field inside the final 5km, perhaps well aware of how their sprinter Tyler Farrar crashed out of the race last year.