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Meet Corbin Strong, the surprise Tour of Britain leader

After an Israeli-Premier Tech rider crossed the finish line on Stage 1 of the Tour of Britain to win the finish of the reduced peloton at Glenshee, an experienced WorldTour team member summed up the surprise by incorrectly referring to the winner as Dylan Teuns.

Corbin Strong may not be the expected Israel-Premier Tech favorite in an experienced lineup that includes the Belgium puncher and Michael Woods, but he seized the opportunity with both hands.

“It was a big buzz for me, I wanted to get this win all year, so it was good to do it,” he said. Cycling news.

Racing in the leader’s red jersey for Stages 2 and 3 of the Tour of Britain was a step up from the last time he held a similar position after winning the 2021 New Zealand Cycle Classic.

This is the 22-year-old’s first year on the WorldTour. He mixed road and track racing throughout his fledgling career, winning the world points race title in 2020 and taking the Commonwealth Games scratch race in August. Much of last season was spent focusing on the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished 11th in Madison.

“I’m from the track so I have a bit of a sprint but I’m also pretty light so I really like the climbs. Maybe the 20-minute climbs are my max at the moment,” Strong said. “I like small sprints in the peloton, so maybe I’m a runner a bit like Michael Matthews.”

Races like the Tour of Britain and other week-long stage races are on the Andorra-based rider’s hit list for the next few years.

“Maybe in the future some more impactful Classics are really where I want to go in my career. But it’s good to get the ball rolling here at the Tour of Britain and I hope I continue in this way,” he said.

2022 was mainly dedicated to gaining experience. Strong’s first tastes of the WorldTour this season have been eventful.

“I had an accident at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and ended up in hospital, so it didn’t end well. Then at Volta a Catalunya I also got sick. So at the moment I haven’t made the biggest mark on WorldTour racing.”

Hailing from the New Zealand town of Invercargill, Strong can also lay claim to being the professional cyclist from the geographically southernmost place in the world. This upbringing also meant he was more comfortable in the deluges of the first and third stages of the Tour of Britain.

“We have a lot of rainy, windy and cold days in my hometown, where I grew up on a bike, so it felt like home,” he said.

Strong was 10 years old when he started running. “I was lucky that we had an indoor velodrome at Invercargill so I could ride the track. My older brother [24-year-old Hayden, who races for UCI Continental team China Glory] I also rode a bike, so I came over and watched some of his races; my dad ran too.”

Like most New Zealanders in an oval ball-mad country, he is a huge rugby fan and played there alongside cycling until he was 15.

The journey from the South Island to the WorldTour was not easy. As a teenager, he was supported by Stabicraft, an international boat building company that started in New Zealand. They helped him race in the country’s North Island, Australia and at the Junior World Championships in Europe.

Then, as his career took off, an accident in a parked car in 2018 left him with a fractured T1 vertebra and off the bike for two months. Growing up, Strong had a special affinity for EF Education-EasyPost pilot Tom Scully among many other pros.

“He’s from near my home, it was cool to see someone from my home in the WorldTour too,” he said. “Chris Froome in the team too, he was a great driver that I looked up to. There’s a lot of inspiration, even in this race too. To have guys like Richie Porte and Michał Kwiatkowski recognize me, come say hello , it’s really cool. “

At the Tour of Britain, his team’s experience also helped him on the road.

“There were a few times in the last 10k on the first day where I got a little excited and Mike [Woods] I just had to remember to calm down a little bit and trust the team. It was really useful to have the experience of these guys, to stay cool in the final stages.”

As his sprint showed, he is strong by name, clearly strong by nature. Although the New Zealander lost the race lead after a late change in results on Stage 3, he sits in second place overall. Can he continue as he started and win the Tour of Britain?

“Yeah, I think he’s capable of winning races like this on this ground and he has the ability to do those things,” said his sporting director Israel-Premier Tech Zak Dempster.