Mathieu van der Poel underlined his status as the hottest property in cycling at the moment, taking victory on the final stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain on Saturday to secure the overall crown.
Van der Poel, 24, sprinted to victory on Deansgate in central Manchester to cap a brilliant week which saw him claim three of the eight stages. The Dutchman will now look to secure an even bigger crown when he takes on the best riders in the world at the world road championships in Yorkshire in a fortnight.
Van der Poel will take some stopping. A crossover star, who has already won multiple world and European titles in cyclocross and mountain bike racing in his short career, Van der Poel has had an extraordinary season, winning Amstel Gold, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl in the spring, when he also finished fourth in the Tour of Flanders.
It required a photo finish to separate the Dutch rider from compatriot Cees Bol (Sunweb). Overall runner-up and Cetaphil points classification winner Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) was third over the line.
“It wasn’t an easy day today, a lot of teams tried to attack us,” said Van der Poel. “Coming into Tour of Britain I didn’t really think it was possible [to win] because of the time trial which I hadn’t done in a really long time.
“But after the time trial [on Thursday] I started to believe I could win the GC [general classification]. But [Saturday] was harder than I thought it would be and I’m really happy with the feeling also and it’s been a good week for us.”
Van der Poel went on to praise the work of his Corendon-Circus team-mates, saying, “They’ve really over done it I think, really, I’m proud of them. We are not the biggest team here, but they gave everything they had, also after the steep climb we were still three riders in the first group, and they did an amazing job after [Friday].”
British domestic teams took home both the Skoda king of the mountains and Eisberg sprints jerseys, courtesy of Jacob Scott (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling) and Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes).
Next year’s race begins in Cornwall, with the dates due to be announced at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) will be crowned Slovenia's first grand tour winner on Sunday after retaining his overall lead following the penultimate stage of Vuelta a Espana on Saturday.
Roglic’s compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) claimed his third stage win atop Puerto de Pena Negra on a memorable day for Slovenian cycling.
World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished second on the stage to close the gap a little to Roglic in the overall, but the Spaniard was still 2min 33sec down in the final reckoning.