Mathieu van der Poel retook the lead in the 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain after placing sixth in Thursday’s Pershore individual time trial, a stage that saw Italian rider Edoardo Affini claim the biggest victory of his fledgling professional career to date.
Corendon – Circus rider van der Poel – who won in Kendal on Tuesday – placed sixth on the stage in Worcestershire to retake the OVO Energy green jersey from Affini’s Mitchelton-SCOTT team-mate Matteo Trentin.
Affini posted a time of 16’39” for the 14.4-kilometre course, beating nearest challenger Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) by seven seconds, with former race winner Dylan van Baarle (Team INEOS) on the same time.
“I kind of surprised myself,” said van der Poel. “The last real time trial I did was when I was a junior, that’s a long time ago. I’m really satisfied with the performance and I liked it out there today.
“It’s going to be a hard race for sure the next few days. Matteo [Trentin] is my closest opponent and he already showed that he’s fast in the end as well. With the bonus seconds, it’s going to be really tight battle until the last day.
“The riders from INEOS are also not that far behind and they have a really strong team here. They’ve already showed that. I think there a lot of riders who can still win the race.”
Van der Poel now leads by six seconds from Trentin, who retains the Cetaphil Points jersey, with Pavel Sivakov (Team INEOS) at 24seconds, and Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal) and Nils Politt (Team KATUSHA ALPECIN) a further two and three seconds in arrears respectively.
Speaking afterwards, stage winner Edoardo Affini commented on his biggest win, “It’s amazing, it’s my second victory this year and first year as a professional. For sure I’m really happy because the field here was really good field of riders for the TT and it gave me some confidence.
“Every rider was looking way faster than me at the time split so every time I was like ‘Maybe it’s not going to happen’ but in the end it looked like I was really able to make the difference on the way back home and I think it worked well with pacing myself so really, really happy.”
The three classification jerseys remained unchanged, with Trentin in the Cetaphil Points jersey and Rory Townsend (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) retaining the Eisberg Sprints jersey by four points from Dries de Bondt (Corendon Circus) with two days remaining.
Jake Scott (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling) enjoys a 21 point lead in the SKODA King of the Mountains classification from de Bondt, and could wrap up the climbers’ jersey during the Warwickshire stage.
Stage Seven begins at Warwick race course at 11:00 and takes in 188 kilometres of Warwickshire, including three ascents of the finish climb at Burton Dassett Country Park.