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.
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.
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.