Van der Poel shows class to lead Tour

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Tom Cary CY­CLING COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Dutch prodigy Mathieu van der Poel showed why he is such a hot favourite with the book­ies to win the elite World Road Race Cham­pi­onships in York­shire in two weeks’ time, tak­ing a dom­i­nant vic­tory on stage four of the OVO En­ergy Tour of Bri­tain yes­ter­day to se­cure the over­all race lead.

The 24-year-old – whose grand­fa­ther is French great Ray­mond Pouli­dor – is one of a new breed of rid­ers who com­petes across a va­ri­ety of dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing cy­clocross, moun­tain-bike rac­ing and road rac­ing.

Van der Poel has won ei­ther world or Eu­ro­pean ti­tles in all of them, not to men­tion clas­sic one­day races such as the Am­s­tel-gold ear­lier this year.

He showed all of his famed ex­plo­sive­ness at the end of a gru­elling day in the North Pen­nines and Howgills yes­ter­day, pow­er­ing clear on the fin­ish climb of Beast Banks in Ken­dal af­ter the pelo­ton had chased down a long-range at­tack by 2014 win­ner Dy­lan van Baarle (Team Ineos), France’s Axel Domont (AG2R La Mon­di­ale) and Ir­ish­man Ed­die Dun­bar (Team Ineos).

Van der Poel launched his ef­fort with around 300 me­tres of the 500-me­tre climb re­main­ing, win­ning by three sec­onds from a group of four rid­ers, in­clud­ing Bri­tain’s Ben Swift (Team Ineos).

“I knew that the fin­ish suited me re­ally well if I had good legs,” said the Coren­don-cir­cus rider. “I was con­fi­dent to do a good fin­ish here and I think the team did a great job.

“This climb is per­fect for me. I re­ally like those fin­ish straights and it’s some­thing I’m good at, es­pe­cially af­ter a hard stage like to­day.

“At­tack­ing early was a bit of a gam­ble be­cause I didn’t re­ally know where the fin­ish line was. I got a bit bumped in yes­ter­day at the fin­ish [in New­cas­tle, where he was sec­ond] and I didn’t want it to hap­pen again, so I just went full gas with 300 me­tres to go.

“It was ac­tu­ally a bit far, but I im­me­di­ately had a gap. With 100 me­tres to go the road got a bit eas­ier so it was big enough to keep that gap un­til the fin­ish line.”

Van der Poel heads into to­day’s fifth stage on the Wir­ral with a onesec­ond ad­van­tage over Mitchel­ton­scott’s Mat­teo Trentin, but he pre­dicted that to­mor­row’s time trial stage in Worces­ter­shire would be key to the over­all vic­tory.

“It’s go­ing to be a bat­tle for sure, but I think the time trial [on stage six] will be de­ci­sive and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done one,” he said.

“I don’t know where I stand in that dis­ci­pline right now so it’s go­ing to be re­ally hard to be in touch with the best time trial guys here.”

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