This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) won the final stage of the Tour of Britain on the streets of London - his 10th stage in total - with Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction) in second and Elia Viviani (Cannondale Pro Cycling) in third.
The 2011 road world champion came through in the final few hundred meters after another expertly timed leadout from his teammate Alessandro Petacchi. The Italian came off Iljo Keisse's wheel to lead Cavendish through the final corners before the British champion unleashed another precise sprint finale.
While his rivals tussled for his back wheel, expending vital energy in the process, Omega Pharma gifted Cavendish with a near perfect leadout.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) finished safely in the peloton and retained is overall lead to claim the race. There was a change in the final overall positions though with Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) leapfrogging Sergio Pardilla into fifth, courtesy of vital sprint bonus seconds.
"At the most, it's just about relief," Wiggins said at the finish. "It was only a 26-second lead so a crash outside of the final 3km... and all those little things. It was just a relief. From the moment I won the time trial though, I thought I could win the GC, but it wasn't ever really over."
The final stage was marked by a six-man move that escaped early in the 88km circuit race through the streets of London.
Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Movistar Team), Shane Archbold (An Post-Chainreaction), Peter Williams (Team IG-Sigma Sport), Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp), Andreas Schillinger (Team NetApp-Endura) and Sergio Pardilla (MTN-Qhubeka). The stage win was only one layer of the break's motivation to escape.
Bauer had a chance of moving up to fifth overall after starting the final stage just three seconds down on Pardilla. Another couplet: Madrazo and Williams were locked in a tense battle for the sprints competition.
Bauer was successful in his bid, gaining enough time to move into fifth but Williams was unable to take the lead in the sprints competition after commissars had adjudged the IG-Sigma Sport rider to have moved Madrazo with his hand during one of the intermediate sprints. It meant that the Movistar rider carried home the jerseys in both the sprint and KOM competitions.
The break were reeled in inside the final 30 kilometres despite a latch ditch move from Schillinger and Archbold. The Kiwi was the last man to be caught and when Alex Dowsett (Movistar) saw his own attack shut down, the peloton prepared itself for the sprint finish.