The toughest and best ever edition of the modern Tour of Britain: that was the verdict after this year’s race produced thrills and spills aplenty, and the GC battle went down to the final day.
The 22-year-old Dutchman was one of six riders who led the race, and shared the podium with another former leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and defending champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).
“The roads are really heavy, there were steep climbs and the six-man teams made it hard,” said Van Baarle. “I think it’s been really, really exciting.”
Kwiatkowski, who is hotly-tipped to take the rainbow jersey in the world road race championships on September 28, believes the Tour of Britain was the perfect preparation for that event.
“Every day it was tough. I think actually every stage was like the classics – it was up and down, and the racing was full gas to the end,” he said.
“With the long stages, it will give me extra energy and better condition for the worlds.”
This was Wiggins’s seventh appearance in the race, and he believes it was the hardest of all.
“Six or seven years ago there were 130 and 140-kilometre stages,” he said. “This year we’ve had 200, 225 kilometres, and [then there’s] the way we’ve raced.
“Most people say it’s the hardest race they’ve done all year. It’s certainly lived up [to expectation] – they were touting it as the toughest edition.”
“It’s been a nice race, Mick Bennett has produced one of the best Tour of Britains yet,” he said, before jokingly adding: “It also seems that each stage of the Tour of Britain this year throws in a couple of climbs in exactly when I don’t need them.”
“Hopefully they’ll reassess next year and give me a chance to win in a breakaway and then follow it up with a load of sprint stages!”
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