Mathieu van der Poel had no idea how great the distance to the finish was when he demarcated in the final of the fourth stage of the Tour of Great Britain. The Dutchman sprinted impressively to the stage victory on Tuesday.
"It was a bit of a gamble because I did not know exactly where the finish was", Van der Poel admitted after his victory. "It was actually quite far, but I immediately had a hole and with 100 meters ahead the road was a little less steep and the difference was large enough to keep it full until the finish."
Van der Poel jumped out of the thinned peloton on a final climb of the hilly stage, passed three refugees and kept the competition far behind. The Belgian Jasper De Buyst was second in three seconds.
"Yesterday I became a bit confined in the sprint and I didn't want to experience that again," said the cyclocross world champion. "So with 200 meters to go I started the sprint at full speed."
On Monday Van der Poel had to settle for second place in the third stage. Then he finished well behind his countryman Dylan Groenewegen in the mass sprint.
Mathieu van der Poel was far ahead of the competition on the final climb. (Photo: Getty Images)
Van der Poel expects that the final win will be difficult
For Van der Poel it is already his eighth victory of the season. Earlier this year he won the Amstel Gold Race, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl, among others. He has never won before in the Tour of Great Britain.
"It is very nice to win a stage here," he exulted. "It was a very tough ride with a lot of climbing, but my team did an excellent job. We controlled the race together with the team of Matteo Trentin and in the final Otto Vergaerde did a great job of getting the refugees back so that I could sprint. "
Thanks to his stage win, Van der Poel took over the lead in the general classification from Italian Matteo Trentin, who is second in just one second. With Thursday's individual time trial ahead of him, he expects that it will be difficult to be able to participate in the overall victory.
"It will undoubtedly be a fight, but I think the time trial will make the decision and it is a very long time since I won one. I do not know exactly how I am in that part, so it will be very difficult for me to measure with the best time trialists here ", the all-rounder decided.