21-year-old shows WorldTour potential with stunning victory

Great Britain’s Chris Lawless emerged victorious at the end of stage four of the Tour de l’Avenir after launching a late attack on the road into Saumur.

Lawless, resplendent in his red, white and blue jersey as British under-23 road race champion, escaped just before the final kilometre in the flat run to the finish in the small town in the west of France.

The 21-year-old, who had finished third on Sunday’s bunch sprint in Chateaubriand, held off the pursuing peloton at the end of the 166.6km stage, winning by two seconds ahead of Imerio Cima (Italy) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway).

The victory comes towards the end of a strong season for Lawless, which has included second place in the National Championship road race, as well as victories in the ZLM Tour and a stage of the Tour de Beauce.

Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) retains the leader’s yellow jersey after winning stage one, with Lawless moving up to seconds place, just two seconds back.

The Tour de l’Avenir, often referred to as the under-23 equivalent of the Tour de France, continues on Tuesday with a lumpy stage to Amboise, with the race likely to be decided with three successive summit finishes in the Alps on stages seven, eight, and nine.