Three stage races, three GC victories: Joe Blackmore’s incredible 2024 continued on Sunday as he won Circuit des Ardennes in Sedan, France.

Blackmore sprinted to win the fourth and final stage, which gave him the bonus seconds required to claim the overall victory.

This win follows on from the British rider’s successes in the Tour du Rwanda and Tour de Taiwan from earlier on in the season. His Taiwan victory was similar to this one: there he overturned a five-second advantage on the final day, whereas this time around a seven-second deficit became a three-second victory.

“Super happy – what a great start to the year,” says Blackmore. “We hoped other teams would take the race on at the start, with only three of us starting [for IPT]. We chilled for the first part of the race and then as we entered the circuits the plan was try to isolate the yellow from his team.

“Some attacks went and me and Pier [André Côté] stayed in a good position on the final 40 kilometers of circuits. I put the pressure on to make the race hard on the final lap, and also went super hard to split the race for the final three kilometers. Luckily I could find the right wheels for the sprint finish and had good momentum coming out of the roundabout at the finish and opened up my sprint to win the stage and GC.”

What made the victory even more impressive was that the IPT Academy squad was low on manpower: Jesse Maris did not start stage two, while Moritz Kretschy abandoned the race after Saturday’s penultimate stage, leaving just Blackmore, Coté, and Spanish climber Alvaro Garcia left in the race.

IPT Academy Manager Tim Elverson said: “We were down on manpower due to Moritz’s injury from crashes, so we had to be creative with a plan. The guys delivered perfectly and then Joe finished it off. It was a tough race that gave us a few issues from crashes but we continued to believe and deliver. Well done team!”

Photos: Florent Grandjean / FG Photos