Wout van Aert claims the Tour of Britain crown after the final stage in Aberdeenshire
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The 2021 AJ Bell Tour of Britain championship came down to the finish line in Aberdeen on Sunday as Wout van Aert claimed the title after a sprint finish to the line.
The Team Jumbo – Visma rider’s victory at the Beach Esplanade meant that he was able to claim the 10 bonus seconds available.
INEOS Greandiers’ overnight race leader Ethan Hayter placed outside the top 10, van Aert was accordingly able to capitalise on this advantage and turn his four-second deficit going into the stage into a six-second advantage moving the young british rider into second while reigning world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) finished third.
Van Aert’s tally of four stage victories is the joint highest in the current version of the race and he becomes one of only sixth riders to have won stages in Scotland, England and Wales, but also now becomes the first to do so in a single tour.
With support along the entire length of the section, including large crowds who made it to the top of Cairn o'Mount and the Queen's View van Aert commented: “It was really nice to see and really cool for me to explore the enthusiasm of British crowds. There were so many people on the side of the road – I really missed that in the last couple of years because of Covid.”
Following the start from Stonehaven, a pack of six riders made an almost immediate breakaway to form a lead group as they headed to the climb of Cairn o’Mount where stage two winner Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) was first to make the ascent.
With bonus seconds on the finish line riders and teams were not going to let this section become a two horse race but it took a concerted pursuit from van Aert’s team-mates and the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team to catch them just four kilometres from the finish line.
It was Robin Carpenter along with Ben Healy who lasted the longest before being absorbed back into the pack.
But having played a highly tactcical waiting game it was van Aert who hit the finish line first to claim the stage and overall victory.
Overnight leader Hayter came in eleventh and was duly crowned the Sportsbreaks.com points competition champion and second overall meant he was the highest-place British rider, ahead of Mark Donovan who finished ninth overall.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will now host the opening stage of the 2022 race next year.