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Watch: Ilan Van Wilder blows Volta Algarve win with early sprint celebration

Patience pays off for Magnus Cort in Portugal

Magnus Court outsprints van wilder Photo by: Eurosport/Twitter

“The race isn’t over until its over” seems so obvious that it should be a saying, until someone messes it up. And it seems like every year some unfortunate pro has to mess up a finish sprint to remind the rest of the dangers of posting up early.

That reminder came early this season. Ilan van Wilder (Soudal Quick-Step) looked locked in to take the win on stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, leading as the race wound through a tight final 300 metres. Then Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Easy Post) appeared out of nowwhere and, as van Wilder celebrated, threw his bike for the line.

Cort’s persistence, and patience, paid off. The EF rider earns the win in Foia. Van Wilder is left wondering what could have been.

RELATED: Wout Van Aert loses Dauphiné Stage 3 with premature celebration

Cort’s victory isn’t just a result of van Wilder’s mistake, though. The Danis racer rode a smart finale. As van Wilder led long, uphill drag to the line, Cort sat several wheels back. Leading on narrow roads seemed wise, with little to move around. Cort saw a different strategy, though.

“There was a lot of headwind, I didn’t want to sit in that for the final kilometre,” Cort told Cycling Pro Net. The gamble almost backfired. “Suddenly I was a bit boxed in, so I had to find the space. But I’m really happy I did it at the last second.”

RELATED: Embarrassing cycling celebrations

As van Wilder weaved across the road, Cort found his way clear of the group and took the direct line through the final corners, passing van Wilder at the last possible second as the Belgian celebrated.

While van Wilder doesn’t get the win, he isn’t beating himself up too much.

“I don’t think I celebrated too early, I celebrated on the finish line,” the Soudal Quick-Step rider told Cycling Pro Net. “I thought I won.”

You can watch the full sprint below (geoblocked in Canada, unfortunately) or on Youtube.

Van Wilder is far from the first pro cyclist to lose a race while celebrating victory. Even the best occasionally make mistakes. Just last year, Wout van Aert lost a stage of Critérium du Dauphiné with both hands raised in celebration. In fact, there’s a long history of embarassing finish line celebrations in the pro peloton stretching bcak to Erik Zabel and even Canada’s own Ryder Hesjedal.