Mathieu van der Poel: Attacking early was a gamble, I didn’t know where the finish was

The unstoppable talent rolled the dice but powered away from all his rivals

(Image credit: Alex Whitehead/

Mathieu van der Poel said his early attack on stage four of the Tour of Britain was a gamble, as he didn’t know where the finish was.

The Corendon-Circus rider was dominant on a challenging day through the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales, sprinting clear of a reduced peloton in the final 300 metres.

Van der Poel, star of road, mountain bike and cyclocross racing, narrowly missed out on victory on stage three, but returned with grit to take the honours in Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District.

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Speaking after the stage, the 24-year-old Dutchman said: “Attacking early was a bit of a gamble because I didn’t really know where the finish line was. I got a bit bumped in yesterday at the finish and I didn’t want it to happen then again today, so I just went full gas with 300 metres to go.

“It was actually a bit far but I immediately had a gap. With 100 metres to go the road got a bit easier so it was big enough to keep that gap until the finish line.”

Van der Poel is racing on British roads to prepare for the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships later this month, having spend the summer focusing on the mountain bike calendar, winning three World Cup events.

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On his first career Tour of Britain victory, he said: “It’s really nice to win this stage; it was a really hard stage, a lot of climbing and I think my team rode it perfectly. We controlled the race together with the team of Matteo Trentin [Mitchelton-Scott] and then at the end I think Otto Vergaerde did an amazing job to get the leaders back just in time for me to do my sprint.”

Van der Poel also finished the day as race leader, having stolen the green jersey off the back of Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) by just one second.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.