San Francisco T100 winner Marten Van Riel said he has finally been pushed to his limits in long-distance racing following the Belgian’s maiden World Tour victory.

The 31-year-old pipped New Zealander Kyle Smith to the line in a scintillating sprint finish, meaning Van Riel now remains unbeaten in five long course races out of five.

In Van Riel’s first T100 outing, after missing Miami in March and Singapore in April, the San Francisco race favourite stormed into the lead with Alcatraz the framing backdrop.

Smith went ahead of Rico Bogen and Van Riel in the final sprint but the Belgian put on the afterburners and broke the tape with a time of 3:18:21.

He said: “I gave everything I had. I just had Kyle on the line – that was incredible.

“I think we were saying before that I’ve not been pushed to my limits in long-distance racing before and I’m pretty sure that today I’ve been pushed to my limits.

“We’re doing a three hour twenty [minutes] race and the difference is less than a second and then 2 seconds to Rico. That’s incredible and it’s really nice to be part of that.

“I think the guys made a mistake by not going earlier because a couple of kilometres out I was really dead and I could only just hang on, but then in the sprint I found something, somewhere in myself to really take it.

“This is the start I could only dream of.  To have this on the board early is very important otherwise the other athletes would be flying away on the leaderboard.”

Van Riel will now press pause on the T100 series as he gears up for Paris 2024, though he is still tipped as the tour favourite when he returns from the Games, despite missing the London leg.

The win means he has pocketed $25,000 and 35 points, as second-placed Smith’s 28 points, just 0.23 seconds behind Van Riel, may prove enough to secure another T100 wildcard for London in July.

Bogen, 23, took third for 25 points as Magnus Ditlev, 1:17 back, claimed fourth to add 22 points to his tally.

Smith said: “It was an incredible day. This course throws up a lot of challenges. It’s iconic. I wasn’t expecting such a big group to come out of the swim together.

“I guess with the nature of the swim with the current, it kept us all together. The bike was super hard.

“On the run I tried to lay it down over the first 4km but Martin and Rico stayed with me.

“With 4km to go I knew it was going to come down to a sprint finish and I had to prepare for that.

“I felt really good. Rico went and then slowed down really quickly. I wanted to lead coming into the final straight but then Marten won and he’s the better man.

“I was thinking about diving, but even if I’d dived I wouldn’t have got there. He just had it over me, he was carrying too much speed.”