Tour of Britain: Mark Cavendish sprints to stage three victory

Mark Cavendish of Team Sky recovered from a disappointing start to the Tour of Britain by winning stage three.

The Briton crashed with one kilometre left of the opening stage and was beaten in a sprint by Australian Leigh Howard on Monday.

However, led out by his team, Cavendish sprinted home in Dumfries well clear of Howard and Lithuania's Aidis Kruopis.

Cavendish's 10-second time bonus lifted him to second in the overall standings, on the same time as leader Howard.

Matt Slater, BBC sports news

"This win, a 13th in 2012, meant a lot to Mark Cavendish. He came to this race wanting to win stages wearing the rainbow jersey. Acting the part is important to Cav - he wanted to show British fans what a world champion looks like. The good folk of Dumfries got that, and there could be a repeat performance in Blackpool."

"I'm delighted. I knew the finish was downhill but I had the perfect lead-out. It was pretty textbook," said Cavendish, who trails Orica GreenEDGE's Howard because of his lower placings over the three stages.

"We tried a few different things yesterday which didn't quite work out, so (directeur sportif) Servais (Knaven) told us to keep things simple today and go for the sprint. It was straightforward in the end."

Four other British riders - Luke Rowe, who won the opening stage for Team Sky, Russell Downing, Jonathan McEvoy and Yanto Barker - finished in the top 10 on the 152.6km stage from Jedburgh, which featured two category one climbs.

An early five-man breakaway was reduced to two when Dutchman Wesley Kreder and Irishman Peter Hawkins pulled clear with 24km to go.

Belgian Sep Vanmarcke closed the gap before Hawkins fell away with 10km remaining.

Stage 4 - Carlisle to Blackpool

START - City Centre, Carlisle 11:00 BST

24.4km: Penrith 11:46

43.0km: Sprint, Shap 12:10

51.8km: Shap Fell (cat 2 climb) 12:21

66.7km: Sprint, Kendal 12:40

79.9km: Old Hutton (cat 2 climb) 12:57

106.4km: Sprint, Caton 13:31

114.0km: Quernmore (cat 3 climb) 13:41

138.4km: Stalmine 14:12

156.0km: FINISH - The Tower, Blackpool Promenade 14:35

Vanmarcke and Kreder were reeled in by the peloton with 2.5km left and Team Sky team-mates Bernhard Eisel and Rowe set up Cavendish to complete the stage win in four hours, 31 minutes and nine seconds.

Of his prospects of winning the Tour, world champion Cavendish, who is preparing to defend his title later this month, said: "I like stage wins, not the general classification.

"I'm wearing the world champion's jersey, so I'd like to save it for that one [the World Championships]."

Briton Kristian House, riding for Rapha Condor, reclaimed the king of the mountains jersey at the expense of Spain's Pablo Urtasun of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Dutchman Boy van Poppel of UnitedHealthcare, who sits third overall, retained his lead in the points classification, while Node4-Giordana Racing's Peter Williams, another British rider, extended his advantage in the sprints classification.

Stage four  of the eight-stage race takes the riders 156km from Carlisle to Blackpool, passing over two second category climbs before a flat finish likely to favour the sprinters.

Stage Three, Jedburgh to Dumfries

1. Mark Cavendish, GB, Team Sky, 4 hours, 31 minutes, 9 seconds

2. Leigh Howard, Aus, Orica GreenEDGE, same time

3. Aidis Kruopis, Lit, Orica GreenEDGE, same time

4. Luke Rowe, GB, Team Sky, same time

5. Sam Bennett, Irl, An Post Sean Kelly, same time

6. Russell Downing, GB, Endura Racing, same time

7. Boy van Poppel, Ned, UnitedHealthcare, same time

8. Jonathan McEvoy, GB, Endura Racing, same time

9. Barry Markus, Ned, Vacansoleil-DCM, same time

10. Yanto Barker, GB, Team UK Youth, same time

General Classification

1. Leigh Howard, Aus, Orica GreenEDGE, 13:16:28

2. Mark Cavendish, GB, Team Sky, same time

3. Boy van Poppel, Ned, UnitedHealthcare +0:04

4. Luke Rowe, GB, Team Sky +0:04

5. Rony Martias, Fra, Saur Sojasun +0:10

6. Russell Downing, GB, Endura Racing +0:12

7. Steele Von Hoff, Aus, Garmin-Sharp +0:16

8. Nathan Haas, Aus, Garmin-Sharp +0:16

9. Sep Vanmarcke, Bel, Garmin-Sharp +0:16

10. Sam Bennett, Ire, Team IG-Sigma Sport +0:17