New Zealand’s Corbin Strong won the first stage of the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Britain to claim the leader’s red jersey.
Strong won an uphill sprint to Glenshee Ski Centre at the end of a 183.1-kilometre stage which started in wet and windy conditions in Aberdeen and saw a five-man breakaway finally caught with less than two kilometres to go.
The Israel-Premier Tech rider surged past Omar Fraile in the last few metres to claim victory, with Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) holding on to second ahead of Anders Halland Johannessen (Uno-X).
Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health) was awarded the Skoda King of the Mountains jersey and Matt Teggart (Wiv SunGod) took the Sportsbreaks.com sprints jersey, and Bassett’s teammate Matt Gibson won the Adyen combativity award.
Ineos Grenadiers team leader and Olympic cross country mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock finished fifth.
Strong, whose teammate Alex Dowsett played a key role in reeling in the breakaway in the closing stages, told ITV4: “It’s an awesome feeling, a big relief for me as this year has not gone all to plan.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs but the team has kept believing in me so I’m really pleased to finally prove I can win at this level.”
Victory for Strong, who won gold in the 15km scratch race at this year’s Commonwealth Games, represents the biggest road victory of his career, and Strong was keen to tie his success in Scotland to the start of his career in New Zealand.
“I’ve always really enjoy racing in the rain actually. I come from Invercargill in New Zealand and it’s very similar to Scotland,” Strong said.
“It felt like home racing in conditions like this, and really suited me well.”
Monday’s second stage covers 175.2km between Hawick and Duns in the Scottish borders.