Julian Alaphilippe admitted he had surprised himself with his form after winning the 2018 Ovo Energy Tour of Britain.
Frenchman Alaphilippe, the first Quick-Step rider to win the race since Nick Nuyens in 2005, was racing for the first time after almost a month off following his Clasica San Sebastian victory.
But the 26-year-old’s fine form, which also included two stage wins and the King of the Mountains prize at the Tour de France in July, as he won the third stage in Bristol before taking over the race lead on Whinlatter Pass.
After successfully defending his advantage over the final two stages, he has now claimed ten individual wins this season but he was quick to pay tribute to the efforts of his team-mates.
“To be quite sincere, I was surprised by my shape, because after the Tour de France I rode only San Sebastian and a couple of criteriums,” he admitted.
“To see that I have such a good condition gives me a big boost of confidence for the remainder of the season and the next important races on my calendar: Tour de Slovaquie, the World Championships and Il Lombardia.
“It's always a nice feeling to win a race, especially the overall. This season has been fantastic so far and I'm happy to add one more success to my palmares, a victory which wouldn't have been possible without my teammates' fantastic support.
“I am proud of them and I want to say a big thank you for their help and the way they protected me throughout the week.”
Alaphilippe finished 17 seconds clear of second-placed Wout Poels (Team Sky), despite the Dutchman claiming stage victory on Whinlatter Pass on stage six.
The win, Poels’ fourth in the race, means he has now won on Hartside Fell, Haytor and Whinlattter Pass in recent editions of the Tour of Britain.
It was one of two Team Sky stage wins in all, with Ian Stannard winning solo the following day on the long, gruelling 215.6km stage to Mansfield – the Brit’s second career win in the race.
And rounding off the podium was Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who finished third overall – 33 seconds behind Alaphilippe – having briefly led the race after Team LottoNL-Jumbo won the team time trial up Whinlatter Pass.
Stannard was the only Brit to win a stage, and there were no British riders in the top ten overall, but Scott Davies (Dimension Data), Hugh Carthy (EF-Drapac), Ethan Hayter (Great Britain), Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins) and Max Stedman (Canyon-Eisberg) all finished in the top 20.
Matt Holmes (Madison-Genesis) also narrowly missed out on the King of the Mountains prize to Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), but did win the overall combativity prize.
Tour of Britain 2018: final general classification
1) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors – 26.25.58hrs
2) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky +17”
3) Primoz Roglic (SVN) – LottoNL-Jumbo +33”
4) Patrick Bevin (NZL) – BMC Racing +42”
5) Bob Jungels (LUX) -QuickStep Floors +51”
6) Jasha Sutterlin (GER) – Movistar +58”
7) Neilson Powless (USA) – LottoNL-Jumbo +1.10
8) Dmitry Strakhov (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +1.21
9) Chris Hamilton (AUS) – Team Sunweb +1.28
10) Pascal Eenkhoorn (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +1.34
12) Scott Davies (GBR) – Team Dimension Data +1.54
14) Hugh Carthy (GBR) – EF-Drapac +2.00
16) Ethan Hayter (GBR) – Great Britain +2.17
17) Tom Pidcock (GBR) – Team Wiggins +2.24
20) Max Stedman (GBR) – Canyon-Eisberg +2.42