Race leader Wout van Aert was denied the chance of becoming the Tour of Britain champion-elect as Uno-X Pro Cycling Team’s Rasmus Tiller took victory in Gloucester on Saturday.

Van Aert attacked three times in the final 30 kilometres on the roads into the historic city, the last of which ended when a reduced peloton caught him within 850 metres of the finish line by Gloucester Docks.

Norwegian rider Tiller benefited from a good lead-out from team-mate and compatriot Tobias Johannessen to win from the 13-man group who came into the finish together.

 

Tiller said: “It feels really good. We have tried [to win every stage here with the two sprinters we have on the team but we knew today was going to be a different race with a smaller [front] group. That suited me better. Tobias did a really good lead-out and it was just for me to sprint for the win.”

“When Wout [van Aert] has a small gap, you know it’s going to be difficult to bring him back. We managed to ride well together, and, in the end, we caught him. Then Tobias did a good lead-out, so I’m happy I had the legs to finish it off.”

The Tour of Britain’s first full stage in Gloucestershire was marked by a flurry of attacks, which put van Aert’s Jumbo – Visma team under pressure on the first Pinarello king of the mountains climb at Winchcombe Hill. It was here that INEOS Grenadiers rider Ben Turner jumped clear of the peloton and was quickly followed by Cumbrian Mark Donovan (Q36.5 Pro Cycling).

Just when it appeared that a chasing trio of Abram Stockman (TDT – Unibet Cycling Team), Liam Johnston (TRINITY Racing), and Alex Richardson (Saint Piran) were going to be stuck in no man’s land, the leading duo waited for them. The quintet soon gained a three-minute advantage over the peloton.

Van Aert’s first attack of the day came on Crawley Hill, the second Pinarello king of the mountain climb, with a little over 25 kilometres remaining. This whittled the peloton down significantly, but left him short of Jumbo – Visma team-mates for company. His next acceleration of note came on an uncategorised ramp near Painswick, to which nobody initially responded. Within seconds he bridged across to Turner and Donovan, the two survivors from the early breakaway.

Impressively, Great Britain rider Stevie Williams was able to join the leaders, before an equally mighty performance saw stage six winner Danny van Poppel (BORA – hansgrohe), reigning Tour of Britain champion Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar Team), and Zeb Kyffin (Saint Piran) bridge the gap.

Undeterred by the everybody-against-van Aert status in the race, the Belgian launched another acceleration 4.3 kilometres outside of historic Gloucester and initially looked like he was about all but seal this year’s overall victory. However, Tiller and Johannessen, together with Nils Politt (BORA – hansgrohe) worked well to close the gap and reel the Jumbo – Visma rider back shortly after the flamme rouge.

Pollit opened up the sprint for van Poppel, but Johannessen and Tiller were ready to pounce, with the stage winner launching his successful sprint around with 100 metres to go.

Despite missing out on glory, van Aert is still the favourite to win this year’s race. He has a three-second advantage over 10 riders, including Tiller, Williams, and INEOS Grenadiers’ Magnus Sheffield. Olav Kooij (Jumbo – Visma) still leads the cottages.com points classification, while James Fouché’s week-long domination of the Pinarello king of the mountains competition may end in South Wales on Sunday with a maximum of 40 points on offer. Sheffield is the new leader in the Sportive Breaks best young rider classification.

Van Aert said: “Today I overestimated the course a bit. It was quite tough in the final and there were some fast guys who could hang on. Tomorrow we will see an even smaller group [at the finish].

“I thought attack was the best form of defence, so that’s what I did. Unfortunately, I isolated myself with guys on my wheel who wouldn’t cooperate – that was a bit of a mistake.

“My team-mates have done a terrific job the whole week, so it’s quite normal that we don’t get any help from the others. I’m still proud of them and hopefully they can hold on for one more day so I can pay them back with a nice GC victory.”

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Highlights of stage seven will be broadcast on ITV4 in the UK at 8pm on Saturday 9 September and are available on demand via ITVX for 30 days.