THOUSANDS of people lined the streets of St Helens to watch the cream of British cycling hurtle through the borough.
All eyes, of course, were on four-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins and World Champion, and multiple Tour de France stage winner, Mark Cavendish.
But it was Australia’s Leigh Howard who narrowly outsprinted Cavendish to win stage two of the Tour of Britain in a dramatic finish at Knowsley Safari Park on Monday (September 10).
The riders entered the borough in Garswood at about 1.45pm before the peloton snaked its way through Billinge and Rainford before heading south into Knowsley.
Several riders attempted to break clear in the final 20km but Team Sky, led by Austria’s Bernhard Eisel, set out to control the pace with Jeremy Hunt, Christian Knees, Wiggins, Luke Rowe and Cavendish on his wheel.
Eisel dropped away with 10km remaining and the Polish rider Marcin Bialoblocki made a lone break as several teams tried to take control of the pace.
Bialoblocki managed to stay clear until the closing 3km as Team Sky again assumed control with Wiggins leading the race into the final kilometre.
However, when the Olympic time trial champion pulled to one side, Cavendish appeared to get slightly boxed in during the sprint and was just unable to reel in Aussie flyer Howard.