Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) sealed overall victory at the 2019 Tour of Britain by sprinting to the stage eight win, edging out Cees Bol (Sunweb) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) to take his third stage of the week.
The 24-year-old Dutchman went toe-to-toe with the former European champion Trentin, exchanging the race lead multiple times, before Van der Poel's two victories on the final couple of stages helped him pull clear.
Trentin finished in second place overall, 17 seconds down, while Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal) takes third, 50 seconds back.
The Italian takes home the points jersey as a consolation prize, while Brit Jacob Scott (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) wins the king of the mountains classification.
How it happened
The eighth and final stage from Altrincham to Manchester offered up a number of categorised climbs en route to shake up the battle for the overall win. Two second category climbs followed by a first category 70km from the finish.
From the moment the flag dropped, riders from two teams in their final international race, Madison Genesis and Wiggins - Le Col, went on the attack. Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) was honouring his home roads while Gabriel Cullaigh (Wiggins - Le Col) was paying homage to his development team before he moves up to the WorldTour with Movistar next year.
After 12km of racing the British pair had opened up nearly a three minute gap over the peloton, with Emil Vinjebo (Riwal Readynez) joining to bolster the breakaway's number to three.
Holmes took the first sprint point ahead of Cullaigh, taking the three-second time bonus, useful as he was sat just a minute and a half behind Van der Poel on GC at the start of the day.
Vinjebo led the escapees over the first climb of the day at Werneth Low, with their gap being maintained, meaning Holmes held the virtual race lead on the road.
By the time Holmes took the second sprint point with 60km raced, their advantage had narrowed to under two minutes, before Cullaigh led over the second climb at Grains Bar 5km later.
As the trio of leaders neared the first category Ramsbottom Rake, their gap had shrunk to just 30 seconds. Ineos then came to the fore, looking to propel fourth place Pavel Sivakov up the GC, tearing the race to pieces as echelons appeared. Both race leader Van der Poel and Trentin made the front group, though, while the breakaway trio were caught with 90km remaining.
On the climb the race fractured further, with the 30 riders in the front group opening up a 45 second gap. Sivakov was the first to the summit of The Rake, ahead of Van der Poel, as Sivakov went solo and built up a lead of 15 seconds on the descent towards Hawkshaw.
After the Russian was brought back in, Ineos looked to further animate the race, with Michał Golas and Gianni Moscon increasing the pace.
With 65km to go the race split again, as 10 riders including Van der Poel and Trentin going off the front. 30 more riders eventually got back onto this group before Andrey Amador (Movistar) went solo, the Costa Rican sitting eighth overall, with Corendon-Circus keeping his gap to within 10 seconds.
However, as Amador approached the final sprint point of the day, he had built up a lead of 46 seconds, leaving him only 10 seconds off the race lead on the road.
Dries De Bondt (Corendon-Circus) then sprinted to second at the sprint point to restrict Trentin to only the one bonus second in third place, aiding Van der Poel's chances of overall victory.
With under 40km to go, Amador was caught after another group went away and an acceleration from Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) brought them all back, as a flurry of attacks continued.
Next to go on the offensive was Golas, Larry Warbasse (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Mark Christian (Wiggins - Le Col), never managing to take out more than a 15 second gap over the next 20km.
With 14km remaining the trio were caught, with Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) then attacking with Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) on his wheel, the Australian then switching to Sivakov's as he came to the front.
No moves were sticking, though, as Connor Swift (Great Britain) surged forward, before Trentin attacked and found Van der Poel immediately on his wheel.
Mitchelton-Scott worked hard to keep the race together in the closing kilometres, as Moscon was one of a number of riders to hit out and try to steal a march on the bunch.
However, Cees Bol (Sunweb) led out the sprint in the finishing straight, with Van der Poel soon drawing level, the pair coming together but managing to stay upright. This caused them to slow, allowing Trentin to make a late surge and nearly draw level, but with a bike throw Van der Poel was first across the line, sealing the overall victory and a third stage win.
Tour of Britain 2019, stage eight: Altrincham to Manchester (166km)
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus, in 3-49-26
2. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb
3. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
6. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First
7. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Sunweb
8. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Danilo Wyss (Sui) Dimension Data, all at same time
Final general classification
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus, in 29-47-41
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at 17 seconds
3. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 50s
4. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos, at 52s
5. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-01
6. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos, at same time
7. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-03
8. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar, at 1-04
9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 1-07
10. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
Final points classification
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott - 86 pts
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus - 73 pts
3. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy - 73 pts
Final king of the mountains classification
1. Jacob Scott (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling - 59 pts
2. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus - 35 pts
3. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos - 34 pts
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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