Tour of Britain 2015: Team Sky's Elia Viviani wins first stage

Elia Viviani
Viviani showed brilliant timing to sneak in at the vital moment and claim the stage win in Wrexham

Elia Viviani edged out Mark Cavendish to win the opening stage of the Tour of Britain after a sprint finish.

Manxman Cavendish had the perfect lead-out but was pipped to the line in Wrexham by the Italian, with German Andre Greipel close behind in third.

Team Sky's Viviani also takes the leader's yellow jersey after a four-man break was caught with under two kilometres to go.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, riding for Team Wiggins, finished in the main bunch.

Etixx-Quick Step's Cavendish was one of the stage favourites and his team negotiated the narrow roads leading up to the finish well, leaving him in the perfect position to launch himself for the line.

But Viviani showed brilliant timing to sneak in at the vital moment and claim victory.

"The line was just not coming quick enough," said Cavendish.

"I looked over, could sense Greipel there and I think I sensed too much of Greipel. If I'd kept the left hand shut maybe I would have got it, but I was too concerned with the right and Elia came through on the line."

Photo finish
Had Cavendish won it would have been his 11th stage victory at the Tour of Britain

Cavendish, who would have recorded an 11th Tour of Britain stage victory had he won, was full of praise for the Tour compared to the Vuelta a Espana, which completed its 15th of 21 stages on Sunday.

"The Vuelta has just become stupid now - 11 mountaintop finishes this year," he said.

"Sprinters aren't bad bike riders. You don't have to go quick uphill to make it a good race, do you know what I mean?

"No one wants to go to the Vuelta any more unless they crashed out of the Tour de France. This is the best race to prepare for the Worlds - it's hard, it's heavy roads, long stages. I just hope the organisers keep it like this."

Ireland's Conor Dunne, who was involved in the breakaway, took the sprinter's jersey after taking the most points from the intermediate sprints on the 177.7km run from Beaumaris on Angelsey.

Monday's stage - the second of eight - is a 159.3km loop from Clitheroe to Colne.

Analysis from BBC Sport's Matt Slater:

"Journalists know only too well never to congratulate Mark Cavendish for coming second, even if he was only the width of a tyre away from winning, but the Manxman's reaction to this defeat was almost statesmanlike.

"There was the usual praise for his teammates, an acknowledgement of his own mistake in focusing on Andre Greipel in the dash for the line and a nod towards Elia Viviani for his perfectly-timed arrival in Wrexham.

"His occasional track cycling partner Sir Bradley Wiggins looks pretty pleased to be here, too, mugging for the cameras and signing the huge array of Wiggo-related memorabilia that seems to follow him everywhere these days.

"All in all, it was a pretty cheerful start to a race that should keep sprinters like Cavendish interested until the end, whilst providing enough of the hard yards for the climbers to be happy too."