Mathieu van der Poel utterly destroyed the competition on a tough stage four of the Tour of Britain 2019, taking the stage and usurping the race leader by just one second.
The Dutch superstar was the first rider to launch his sprint on the sharp rise to the line in Kendal, easily catching the three-rider breakaway and powering away from the rest of the reduced field.
Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) crossed the line well clear of the surging bunch behind, with Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal) and Simon Clarke (EF Education First) rounding out the podium.
Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) finished in the top-10 on the stage but has conceded his race lead to Van der Poel by a solitary second.
How it happened
The fourth stage of the 2019 Tour of Britain was a tough climbing day, with more than 2,600 metres of climbing spread over the three categorised climbs and countless unmarked rises.
Covering 173.2km from Gateshead to Kendal on the edge of the Lake District, the route rolled all day, with the second category Snods Edge at 37km, the first category Bollihope Common at 63km.
The final climb, Gawthorp, came around 30km from the finish, but the peloton still faced a tough final 20km with plenty of uncategorised climbing.
Into the final turns, the road turn upward sharply into the last few hundred metres and only levelled out just over 50m from the line.
Early racing saw Team Ineos rider Dylan van Baarle and Ag2r La Mondiale’s Axel Domont attacking and breaking clear of the bunch, with Van Baarle’s team-mate Eddie Dunbar bridging across later to make a dangerous trio.
The breakaway extended their advantage up to just over three minutes, but with Dunbar just 20 seconds off the race lead, the peloton would not let them escape any further.
Dunbar was dropped around 100km into the stage before Van Baarle dropped Domont to set up a long solo effort with around 60km to race.
The Dutchman was caught with around 30km to race, as his team-mate Gianni Moscon attacked and split the field not long after.
After persistent attacks, Ag2r La Mondiale’s Tony Gallopin was the next rider to pulled out a gap in the final 15km, with Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) and James Shaw (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) joining him.
The trio held a narrow advantage heading into the final kilometre, but the bunch were biting at their heels with around 300 metres to go.
Van der Poel then launched a monstrous sprint from fourth wheel, a long way from the line, immediately catching the bunch and riding clear.
He made it to the crest of the final climb with a chasm between himself and the peloton, dropping back into the saddle and taking the win three seconds ahead of De Buyst and Clarke who carried the bunch across the line to take second and third respectively.
Former race leader Matteo Trentin fought hard to finish ninth on the stage, but hands the green jersey over to Van der Poel by one second, with De Buyst now third at seven seconds.
Tour of Britain 2019, stage four: Gateshead to Kendal (173.2km)
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus, in 4-23-08
2. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 3 seconds
3. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
4. Ben Swift (GbR) Team Ineos
5. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
6. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1s
3. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 7s
4. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, at 14s
5. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 15s
6. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos, at 19s
7. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar, all at same time