Mathieu van der Poel reiterated his billing as the hottest talent in professional cycling on Saturday as he was crowned the 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain champion in Manchester.
The 24-year-old Dutchman sealed his victory in style, sprinting to win the eighth and final stage of this year’s race after a frantic day of racing around all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.
Van der Poel outsprinted compatriot Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) by a tyre width on Deansgate in Manchester city centre, with overall runner-up and Cetaphil Points classification winner Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) placing third across the line.
“It wasn’t an easy day today, a lot of teams tried to attack us,” said van der Poel. “Coming into Tour of Britain I didn’t really think it was possible because of the time trial which I hadn’t done in a really long time. But after the time trial I started to believe I could win the GC, but today was harder than I thought it would be and I’m really happy with the feeling also today and it’s been a good week for us.
Van der Poel went on to praise the work of his Corendon Circus teammates, saying, “They’ve really over done it I think, really, I’m proud of them. We are not the biggest team here, but they gave everything they had, also after the steep climb we were still three riders in the first group, and they did an amazing job after yesterday.”
While Corendon Circus and the Jumbo Visma team of triple stage winner Dylan Groenewegen initially did well to control the breakaway of Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis), Gabriel Cullaigh (Team WIGGINS Le Col) and Emil Vinjebo (Riwal Readynez), but the race erupted into life on the infamous climb of the Rake above Ramsbottom.
Pavel Sivakov sparked proceedings into life on the slopes of the Rake, with his Team INEOS teammates taking up the mantle with a flurry of attacks across the moors north of Manchester. Movistar’s Andrey Amador was the main beneficiary, building a 49 second lead at one point before being reeled back in by the pace of the reduced front group.
With 25 kilometres remaining INEOS’ Michal Golas was joined off the front by Larry Warbasse (AG2R La Mondiale) and Mark Christian (Team WIGGINS Le Col) but their lead only lasted until the 10 kilometre mark as the Tour raced through Salford, setting up a thrilling finish on Deansgate.
It was Team Sunweb’s Cees Bol that picked up the sprint coming out of the final left hand turn onto the long finishing straight, with van der Poel coming around him to just hold off the fast finishing Trentin.
Trentin’s finishing record of top ten finishes on every stage barring the individual time trial gave him a comfortable victory in the Cetaphil Points jersey from van der Poel, while former race winner Dylan van Baarle (Team INEOS) was voted the overall Wahooligan Combativity award winner in a public poll on the event’s social media channels.
British domestic teams took home both the SKODA King of the Mountains and Eisberg Sprints jerseys, as Jacob Scott (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling) confirmed his victory in the former, two years on from having agonisingly lost the same jersey on the final day of racing.
“It’s just something I didn’t do two years ago I guess,” said Scott. “I lost by one point then and won by probably I don’t know how many now. It’s a change. I wouldn’t say it was a specific target coming in, I wanted to try to something in a stage which I wanted to do today but I’m quite happy to win it obviously.”
Winning the Eisberg Sprints jersey was Rory Townsend, ensuring that his Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team took the red jersey for a second year.
“We had Alex [Paton] who won it last year and it’s just kind of picking up from where he left off, was part of the plan, it’s something we wanted to do in the race,” said Townsend, before explaining his reaction to taking the jersey he’d initially claimed after Stage one in Scotland.
“Just pure relief. It was really nice. I was very happy with how the stage started today, three guys up the road who weren’t in contention. Then of course that last sprint was a little bit up in the air.”
Townsend’s win the jersey also rounded out a successful week, having been called up to the Irish squad for the road World Championships in Yorkshire at the end of the month. Come the World’s Townsend will be racing in green, but in Manchester on Saturday there was only one green jersey that people were speaking about, that of stage winner and 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain champion Mathieu van der Poel.
Highlights of Stage Eight are on ITV4 at 20:00 this evening [Saturday 14 September] and also available on demand via the ITV Hub catch-up service.
Tomorrow, Sunday 15 September, the streets of Manchester city centre will see the HSBC UK Let’s Ride Manchester event, a traffic free cycling festival for everyone. For more information about the Let’s Ride event, please click here.
The 2020 Tour of Britain begins in Cornwall, with dates for next year’s race to be announced at the end of September, and further details of the route in the late Autumn.
The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep and helping to build a great cycling nation.