Belgian magnanimous in defeat as Magnus Cort Nielson beats him on Tour de Yorkshire's summit finish

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) is hoping that entering the decisive final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire without the leader’s jersey will give him a tactical advantage in his effort to win the race.

Van Avermaet was the favourite for Friday’s testing summit finish at the Cow and Calf but was beaten to the line by Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana). The Belgian now sits just four seconds down on GC and with Saturday’s stage expected to finish in a bunch sprint Sunday’s hilly parcours is likely to decide the overall contest.

The Olympic Champion said: “This is a race between some rest for me so I know I’m not in my best shape. I’m happy with how it has gone I’ll just try to survive Sunday, it’s a hard stage, hard to control so maybe it’s not so bad to be in second place.

“We have some guys in the GC maybe Brent [Bookwalter, currently 11 seconds down].. maybe it’s better to have two cards to play in the last stage.”

Van Avermaet launched his sprint on the second stage summit finish with around 450meters left to race but Cort Nielsen reeled him in and came round him. The Belgian said he had no regrets. “I didn’t want to wait any longer I didn’t know who was in my wheel. I think this guy deserved to win he was stronger than me.

Cort Nielsen said: “It was a really hard climb but I was ridden at a stable tempo with few attacks, that suits me. I was sitting there waiting and waiting to open my sprint I went for it an luckily I had the legs.

He added: “It is the perfect day I couldn’t wish for any more… Now you have to hang on two days to go the goal is to keep that jersey now. It’ll be really hard it’s not easy but we’ll fight with everything we have.”