Olav Kooij became only the second rider in modern Tour of Britain history to claim three-consecutive stage victories after completing his hat-trick in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, on Tuesday.
Kooij was run closer than at any other point to date in the race, but he held off fast finishes from Danny van Poppel (BORA – hansgrohe) and Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) to win outside of the Yorkshire town’s racecourse.
In doing so he matched Edvald Boasson Hagen’s feat from the 2009 race of winning a trio of stages in a row (the Norwegian went on to win four consecutively), albeit the Jumbo – Visma rider has made his own piece of history by the fact he has triumphed in every stage of the Tour in which he has competed to date.
The stage kicked into life inside the final 40 kilometres, following a three-man attack by Saint Piran’s Alex Richardson, Harry Birchill and Jack Rootkin-Gray. The trio quickly bridged to the Harry Tanfield (TDT – Unibet Cycling Team) and Nico Sessler (Global 6 Cycling), the remainder of the day’s three-man breakaway, which forced Kooij’s Jumbo – Visma team into life.
Kooij said: “It’s pretty special to win three stages in a row. You never get used to winning so it was nice to do so again. After the last two days we knew it was up to us to control. We tried to split it once we hit the coast but the wind wasn’t strong enough and then we had a really tough job bringing back the final couple of guys. But, in the end, we managed to make it a hat-trick.”
Today’s stage, which started in Goole, was sponsored by trade kitchen experts Howdens and passed by their manufacturing site inside the opening 10 kilometres. By that time, the day’s three-man breakaway had formed. Instigated by Nicolas Sessler (Global 6 Cycling), he was quickly joined by Pinarello king of the mountains leader James Fouché (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) and TDT-Unibet’s Harry Tanfield.
The three breakaway riders went into the base of the first categorised climb at Towthorpe Lane with three minutes on the chasing peloton. Fouché (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) took maximum points there, and over the top of the second hill at Langtoft, to further extend his lead in the mountains classification.
As the riders entered the seaside town of Bridlington, the trio’s advantage was just 30 seconds, but they stayed clear long enough for Tanfield to roll through the cottages.com sprint at Skipsea first. Fouché decided his day was done at this point; he sat up and was the first to be caught by the peloton with 42 kilometres remaining.
But far from that being the start of a regulation final hour of racing, it was actually where the stage took on a whole new life. Saint Piran tried their hand with a pre-planned attack, which forced Jumbo – Visma into using the energy of Tour de France podium finisher Steven Kruijswijk and Jos van Emden to pull back.
Saint Piran’s audacious, but ultimately unsuccessful, move seemed to get everyone’s tails up. INEOS Grenadiers sent Ben Turner and then Luke Rowe on the attack approximately 25 kilometres out from the finish. After those bids failed, Connor Swift made his move and was joined by eight riders, including reigning champion Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar Team), Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team, Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo – Visma), Nils Politt (BORA – hansgrohe), and British duo Matthew Bostock and Jacob Scott (Bolton Equities Black Spoke)
German rider Politt, who narrowly missed out on winning in Mansfield during the 2018 race, split the breakaway alongside Bostock as the race passed through Long Riston. The pair held a 30-second gap until Jumbo – Visma, TRINITY Racing, and Movistar Team took up control at the head of the peloton and chased them back.
Bostock’s resistance was last to be broken, but once he was reeled in with six kilometres remaining, the outcome of the stage seemed all but inevitable.
Former Tour of Britain stage winner Edoardo Affini peeled off on the long drag up to Beverley Racecourse, before super domestique Wout van Aert placed Kooij in to a perfect position with 300 metres to go.
Kooij’s compatriot van Poppel at one point looked like he’d take the victory for the Netherlands, but couldn’t quite find the second burst to do so. Victory further extends Kooij’s lead in the cottages.com points classification, and he also continues to top the Sportive Breaks best young rider standings.