By Jonny Long
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) extended his race lead at the Tour of Britain 2019 with a dominating show of strength to claim stage seven ahead of rival Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).
British road race champion Ben Swift (Ineos) kicked things up on the final ramps up to the finish, before Van der Poel came storming through with Trentin on his wheel.
The Italian sat on the young Dutchman's wheel as the two pulled clear before Van der Poel kicked again at 150m, looking back as he crossed the finish line with Trentin congratulating him with a thumbs up.
Simon Clarke (EF Education First) then led the peloton across the line, three seconds down on Van der Poel.
The 24-year-old now leads Trentin by 12 seconds with only tomorrow's Manchester stage remaining.
How it happened
With Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) retaking the race lead from Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) after stage six's individual time trial, a lead of just six seconds invited more action on stage seven as the Tour of Britain headed to Warwickshire.
Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) and Jake Scott (Swift Pro Cycling) were two of the first riders to attack as soon as the flag dropped, before Gabriel Cullaigh (Wiggins - Le Col) launched off the front.
Next to go on the offensive was Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Connor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy), before the main sprint contenders went clear at 12km as the first sprint point loomed ahead. However, with Van der Poel involved Mitchelton-Scott were not going to let the group away and reeled them back in.
This mattered little to the young Dutchman, who won the first sprint ahead of Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), picking up a three-second time bonus, as Trentin picked up only one.
The attacks kept coming until a trio of riders finally got away after 40km of racing. Gallopin was involved once again, alongside Remy Mertz of Lotto-Soudal and Alex Colman (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes), soon being joined by John Dibben (Madison Genesis).
The quartet gained an advantage of 30 seconds before being brought back in to just 15, with a counter-attack following from the cousins, Ben Swift (Ineos) and Connor Swift (British Cycling).
Once again, though, these six riders off the front were all brought back in before Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) and Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked with 130km to go.
The duo had a lead of 1-45 by the time they swept up the first two places at the second intermediate sprint, with Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale) taking third spot. The Lithuanian and Carlos Verona (Movistar) attempted to chase down the breakaway, lingering just 10 seconds ahead of the peloton with just over 100km remaining, eventually being brought back in 25km later.
As Van Baarle and Meyer approached Friz Hill, they led the peloton by 2-40, with the Australian leading the Ineos rider over the summit.
Approaching the third and final intermediate sprint, Mitchelton-Scott and Corendon-Circus lined up their trains before Rory Townsend came shooting through the middle early. Trentin, however, latched on to his wheel and easily swept up the solitary bonus point left for third place, with the Irishman showing his frustration at having been bested.
Jon Dibben then led Matt Holmes off the front of the peloton in a spirited attack on the first ascent of Burton Dassett, but Jake Scott eventually took third place to add to his KOM tally.
With 25km to the finish, the two leaders' gap was down to 1-10, with two of three ascents of Burton Dassett remaining.
Their advantage continued to dwindle and Meyer was eventually caught with 12km remaining, Ineos' Gianni Moscon then attacked, with Van der Poel setting off after him and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) also electing to get involved in the action.
Van Baarle was still holding out off the front, only nine seconds ahead, but then the race all came back together quickly, with a group of five then launching off the front, including British road race champion Ben Swift (Ineos).
Movistar decided to take up the chase in the closing kilometres, the break's gap holding at 15 seconds into the final 3km.
Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) led the group of five onto the incline of the third and final climb, with Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) on his wheel, and with 1km to go they still had a gap of eight seconds.
Ben Swift then kicked as the incline increased, with Jansen following, before Van der Poel countered from behind and came through the gap between the two riders.
Trentin locked onto his wheel before the Dutchman kicked again and rode across the line to increase his overall race lead with the 24-year-old only needing to defend his green jersey for one more day in Manchester to secure the overall victory.
Tour of Britain, stage seven: Warwick to Burton Dassett (188.7km)
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus, in 4-07-49
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at one second
3. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, at 3s
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
5. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
6. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
7. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos
8. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
9. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
10. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus, at 25-58-25
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at 12 seconds
3. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 40s
4. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos, at 42s
5. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 51s
6. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos, at same time
7. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 53s
8. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar, at 57s
9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at same time
10. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma, at 58s
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