Leigh Howard made it two wins in three days as he sprinted to victory in the Trofeo Alcudia this afternoon.
Howard comfortably beat Maarten Wynants (Blanco) and Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida) in the race for the line, but the triumph owed as much to the Australian’s turn of speed as it did his Orica-GreenEdge team’s efforts.
Angel Madrazo (Movistar) and Robert Gesink (Blanco), the two survivors from a 10-man group who went clear after 33 kilometres, were only caught by a severely-fragmented peloton three kilometres from the line thanks to their efforts.
The main field had been whittled down to barely 40 riders when the race came alive on the second-category Coll de Soller after 95km. By then Bradley Wiggins had climbed off his bike, retiring after 48km, while already many riders had been distanced by virtue of strong winds and a high-tempo throughout.
Orica-GreenEdge caused most of the damage on the climb, getting six riders in the front group, and set off in pursuit of what remained from the escape group.
Madrazo and Gesink eventually surrendered, which allowed the Australian team to set-up Howard for a well-deserved victory. Alex Dowsett finished 13th for Movistar.
Only 106 riders out of nearly 200 riders made it to the finish in Playa de Muro within the time limit. Great Britain’s Ben Swift (Team Sky) was not one of those; the Yorkshireman crashed on descent of Coll d’Honor and was taken to a nearby hospital for a CT scan.
Challenge Majorca day four: Trofeo Alcudia-Can Picaforrt-Playa de Muro, 169.8km
1. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 4-15-29
2. Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco
3. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Egoitz Garcia (Esp) Cofidis
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
6. Angelo Tulikl (Fra) Europcar
7. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8. Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Sharp
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky all at st.
13. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar at 0-03
50. Liam Holohan (GBr) Madison-Genesis at 5-19
56. Ian Bibby (GBr) Madison-Genesis at st.
63. Alex Peters (GBr) Madison-Genesis at 8-25
91. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Sky at st.
Bradley Wiggins before the start
Peloton pass under a rainbow
Leigh Howard wins the sprint
Leigh Howard on the podium