As the countdown to the Grand Depart of the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain from Anglesey continues, Brendan Gallagher spoke to last year’s surprise winner Dylan Van Baarle, as prepares to return to British roads with his Cannondale Garmin team.

Michal Kwiatkowski and Sir Bradley Wiggins may have used their podium places at last year's Aviva Tour of Britain as a launching pad for World Championship success but the race winner of a wildly fluctuating race was a relatively unknown first year professional, Dylan van Baarle.  

The young Dutchman had ridden a rock solid, if largely anonymous, race for the first six days and was positioned in 14th place at the start of the long, 225km, Stage Seven from Camberley to Brighton. He was however just 1 minute 25 behind the Yellow Jersey of Alex Dowesett and clawed that back in fine style when he got in the stage winning break with Julien Vermote to finish in third place 1’20 ahead of the charging bunch. 
Factor in nine seconds of time bonuses and suddenly he was the leader of the Tour of Britain and the man to beat with just one day left – a short 8.8-kilometre time trial in London city centre and then that afternoon's criterium.
"I didn't ever set out with the target of winning the race as such but the team raced aggressively and I kept my nose towards the front most days and quickly realised that it was actually a race in which almost anything could happen," recalls Van Baarle. 
"I arrived knowing little of the terrain but had mistakenly believed it would be mainly sprints so I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the stages were like one-day Classics, which played into my strength. I didn't suffer too badly on the main climb in Wales and then on that last long stage into Brighton the cards fell my way and I found myself in yellow.
"""The question then was could I defend my lead in the short time trial in London, especially against Wiggins and Kwiatkowski. I hadn't ridden against Bradley in a TT so had no measure of how much I might concede in such a short TT but I had raced against Kwia a number of times. I did the maths calculated what I thought might be the difference and realised that despite what some people were saying I still had a chance of winning GC.

"So I was hopeful and it worked out well. I finished in 11th, 25 seconds behind Brad and nine seconds behind Kwia. That still left me ten seconds ahead of Kwia who was in second place so it was a case of not making a mistake in the afternoon and my team looked after me expertly.
"It was a really big win for me and still the best result of my career. The victory earned a lot of coverage at home. Not only was the race watched quite a bit on the TV but the fact that I ended up ahead of big name riders like Kwiatkowski and Wiggins attracted extra attention.  Off the back of that result I earned a place in the Netherlands team for the World Championships so I have nothing but good memories of the 2014 Tour of Britain.

"It was definitely a new level for me and I feel like I have built on that this year although I am still looking for a win. I had a third place at Dwars door Vlaanderen, which is perhaps my best result because they are the kind of races I want to become very competitive in. There was a fifth in GC at Bayern Rundfahrt and a runner up in a stage at the Eneco Tour recently. I also rode and finished my first Tour de France, which was a great evolution for me. My main ambitions remain the Spring Classics and the short hard stage races like Tour of Britain."

Above – lining up in London alongside the other jersey winners.  Mark McNally (far right) the SKODA King of the Mountains also returns for Madison Genesis.

Van Baarle, still only 23, has signed on for another two years with the renamed Cannondale-Garmin team and arrives back in Britain keen to defend his title although he accepts that in such an unpredictable race, team have to keep their options open.
"It could be that one of our other riders eventually has the best chance to win so we must be open that possibility but I will be riding aggressively on terrain I enjoy. I have also been selected for the World Championships in the USA and this is the perfect lead in.
"The Worlds’ course and it seem in the balance to me. It could be a sprint finish or it could be one for the Classics type. In the Dutch team we don't really have a big sprint card to play so we probably need to make it a hard ridden, Classics type race and to give ourselves a chance of somebody coming through. We will need to be super fit and ride aggressively and the Tour of Britain suits me perfectly as a preparation for that. It will be good to be back.”

Find profiles of all 20 teams competing in the Aviva Tour of Britain and download the rider list by clicking here.