Wout van Aert wins stage one of Tour of Britain 2021

The Belgian wins his ninth race of the season

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Wout van Aert timed his uphill sprint to perfection to win stage one of the 2021 Tour of Britain.

The Jumbo-Visma man sat behind world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and then attacked his rival with a few hundreds metre to go, holding off the challenge of Nils Eekhoff (Team DSM) in Bodmin.

Gonzalo Serrano of Movistar and Ethan Hayter of Ineos Grenadiers finished metres behind Van Aert, with Canyon dhb SunGod's Rory Townsend leading home a select group of riders including Alaphilippe just two seconds in arrears.

Van Aert goes into the lead ahead of stage two in a race that he is favourite to win.

How it happened

The first Tour of Britain stage since 2019 immediately saw a breakaway come together, with the three Britons of Max Walker (Trinity Racing), Oliver Stockwell (Great Britain) and Jacob Scott (Canyon dhb SunGod) being joined by the South African Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka NextHash) and the American Joey Rosskopf (Rally Cycling).

They established a lead of a few minutes and though the peloton never let them out of sight, the quintet were allowed to battle it out in the day’s two intermediate sprints and three King of the Mountains in Cornwall.

In the latter, it was Scott with 11 points who came out on top, the 26-year-old looking to retain his title from two seasons ago. He also scooped up maximum points in the sprints, gaining a bonus six seconds, too.

At 40km to go Rosskopf suffered a flat tyre, and a few kilometres later Dlamini was swept up by the bunch, but it wasn’t until there was 20km remaining that the three Brits were also caught.

Movistar, Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Ineos Grenadiers drove the peloton towards the finishing town of Bodmin, and at 7km from the line a crash split the bunch in half. 

Mark Cavendish was part of Deceuninck - Quick-Step's lead-out train until three kilometres to go, when Mikkel Honoré then took charge setting an incessant pace.

In the final 800m, Owain Doull took up position at the front in an attempt to tee up his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Michał Kwiatkowski, but Alaphilippe then ducked to the right of the Pole and attacked with 500m to race.

Van Aert stayed in the Frenchman’s wheel and waited for the steep gradients to take their toll on his rival before darting to the head of the race.

The Belgian marched forward and even with Eekhoff and Hayter threatening to pass him to his left, Van Aert had enough of an advantage to sit up and celebrate as he crossed the line.

Results: Tour of Britain 2021 stage one: Penzance > Bodmin, 181km

1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 4:33.36
2. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
3. Gonzalo Serrano (Esp) Movistar
4. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time
5. Rory Townsend (Irl) Canyon dhb SunGod, at 2secs
6. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
9. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 4:33.26
2. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM at 4s
3. Gonzalo Serrano (Esp) Movistar at 6s
4. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers at 10s
5. Rory Townsend (Irl) Canyon dhb SunGod at 12s
6. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
9. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix, all at same time

Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.


Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.