LONDON (AFP) – Bradley Wiggins won his home Tour of Britain on Sunday as compatriot Mark Cavendish took his third stage victory of this year's race.
Omega Pharma Quickstep sprint specialist Cavendish surged away from An Post Chain Reaction's Sam Bennett of Italy and Italian rider Elia Viviani of Cannondale to take victory in the closing stages of a race that culminated in Whitehall in central London.
Team Sky's Wiggins, Britain's 2012 Olympic and Tour de France champion, finished in the chasing pack to secure overall victory and take the gold jersey.
Switzerland's Martin Elmiger was second overall, the IAM Cycling rider 26 seconds adrift of Wiggins, with Simon Yates of the Great Britain Under-23 team third.
"The feeling at the moment is more just relief than anything else," said Wiggins, after his first stage-race triumph since the 2012 Tour de France.
"I said I wanted to win it. It is pressure for the whole week.
"Until you cross the line you just don't know. It's all right to think it's a bit of a ceremony round London, but it certainly isn't.
"You cross the line, you're pumped up. It's relief that you've finished and fulfilled it for your team and your team-mates."
Wiggins, however, won't have much time to savour this win with his thoughts now turning to Wednesday's Road World Championships time-trial in Italy
"It's a bit like the Tour with the Olympics. Win the Tour one day, the next day you're thinking about the Olympics," Wiggins explained.
Meanwhile Cavendish, who won the concluding stage of the Tour of Britain for a third successive year, said: "It's been incredible, to be able to win the stage again in London."
The Isle of Man rider thanked Alessandro Petacchi, a former rival turned team-mate, for his support.
"His road sense is like something I've never seen before," Cavendish said.
"He's super smooth, super intelligent, super calm. He keeps me calm.
"I haven't had this since I worked with (Mark) Renshaw and it's exactly the same with Alessandro.
"I don't really have to do anything, I just follow a wheel that's smooth as silk and go with 200 metres to go."