Oli Stockwell stars at Tour of Britain as Wout van Aert takes stage win
- Credit: BEN BIRCHALL/PA
London Colney's Oli Stockwell showed no nerves on his debut at cycling's top table by starring in the break of the day.
Stockwell, an ex-pupil of Verulam School, was a late call-up to the eight-day event, the premier competition in the British cycling calendar.
And the former Welwyn Wheeler escaped early into the 180.8km-long stage from Penzance to Bodmin, forming a five-man group with Joey Rosskopf (Rally), Jacob Scott (Canyon SunGod), Max Walker (Trinity) and Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka Nexthash).
They mopped up all the points at the three king of the mountain climbs and the two intermediate sprints, Stockwell putting himself fourth in the KOM standings at the end of the day, and they stayed clear until the final stages.
There was never much hope of them staying clear until the finish as the main peloton, controlled in the main by Deceukinck Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma, kept them on a short leash, toying with them at times.
But Stockwell was the last man to be caught, launching another attack with a little over 23km and staying off the front for another 2km.
But once the catch had been made, the finale became a drag race as the big boys battled for position into the kick up to the line.
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As he had done on stage one of the Tour de France, world champion Julian Alaphilippe launched a big attack up the steeper slopes.
He couldn't shake the attentions of Wout van Aert though who cruised by and was never challenged to the line.
Bonus points for the win mean he now leads by four seconds and will be strongly fancied to hold the jersey for the remainder of the race.
Stockwell stuck with the peloton until a late crash held him up and split the front group to pieces.
Standings - stage
1.Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 4:33:36
2.Nils Eekhoff (DSM) s.t.
3.Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Movistar) s.t.
4.Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) s.t.
5.Rory Townsend (Canyon SunGod) +0.02
77. Oli Stockwell (GB) +3.14
Standings - GC
1.Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 4:33:26
2.Nils Eekhoff (DSM) +0.04
3.Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Movistar) +0.06
4.Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) +0.10
5.Rory Townsend (Canyon SunGod) +0.12
77. Oli Stockwell (GB) +3.23
Next - stage two
A 183.9km ride from Sherford to Exeter with the last 60km featuring two category two climbs as the peloton heads across Dartmoor.
Same as today by the looks of it. Expect some of the same names to get back into the break, the likes Jacob Scott and Nic Dlamini will want to continue their fight for the sprint and climbers jerseys.
It will depend on his legs if Stockwell wants to get into the mix. He is coming off the back of a solid block of racing so fatigue may feature.
Your winner should come from a sprint though and for that reason alone it will probably be Mark Cavendish or Wout Van Aert who duel for the honours again.