Over the past two days, North and East Yorkshire have played host to, what is becoming, one of the best cycling races around. On Day 1 (Friday), riders raced from Bridlington to Scarborough before Day 2 took them from Selby to overwhelming crowds in York. The TdY has done wonders for our beautiful county already – but it hasn’t even been to West Yorkshire yet! The Local Leader will be reporting live from the Tour de Yorkshire on its final day, when it journeys from Wakefield Cathedral, through Barnsley, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Haworth and through to Roundhay Park in North Leeds where the grand finale will take place.
So check back on Sunday 3rd May in the evening for our report on the day’s proceedings.
But for now, see reports from Stages 1 and 2:
STAGE 1 – DRAMATIC OPENING DAY LEADS TO NORDHAUG WIN AND SWIFT INJURY
The Norwegian Lars Petter Nordhaug claimed what he said felt like a “home victory” for his Sky team in front of massive crowds on day one of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire. Rain and a peril-strewn route through the North Yorkshire Moors had wreaked havoc earlier in the stage, with star attractions Ben Swift and Marcel Kittel both forced to abandon. Nordhaug will start tomorrow’s theoretically more straightforward stage to York in the race leader’s blue jersey and with a four-second advantage over Thomas Voeckler on general classification thanks to time bonuses.
Party of five
Bright, cold and breezy weather greeted the 140 riders representing 18 teams and 22 countries at the start-line in Bridlington. The first meaningful break of the day formed after 21 kilometres and comprised Mark Christian (WGN), Loïc Chetout (FRA), Eddie Dunbar (IRL), Mark Stewart (MGT) and Rasmus Quaade (CLT). These five riders would stay together for 75 kilometres and build a maximum lead of just under five minutes before a peloton led by Team Sky gradually clawed back their deficit. The five would be reabsorbed at the foot of the Côte de Rosedale Abbey after 91 kilometres.
Kittel’s misery and a Swift exit
The hostilities recommenced with an attack from Pierrick Quéméneur (EUC) in Danby with 68 kilometres to go. The Europcar rider was soon joined by Tim Declercq of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (TSV), and that pair quickly built a lead of 40 seconds. Meanwhile, at the other end of the race, Marcel Kittel (TGA) was enduring a miserable time as rain started falling on the North York Moors. Dropped earlier on the Côte de Rosedale Abbey, Kittel had battled on for 20 kilometres but now decided to end his Tour de Yorkshire with just under 70 kilometres to go.
Kittel’s would be the first of several notable withdrawals. Many of them resulted from crashes on a slippery descent in Egton 53 kilometres from home. One of the two leaders, Declercq, overshot a right-hand bend and went straight on into a hedge. In the peloton, one of the pre-race favourites, Ben Swift, tumbled on the same, treacherous downhill section and would follow Kittel into the broom wagon.
Snakes and ladders
Declercq’s slip left Quéméneur alone at the head of the race, with his advantage holding at around 45 seconds over the Côte de Grosmont, with 50 kilometres to go. Confusion in the main bunch briefly allowed the Frenchman to extend his lead to over a minute, until Anthony Turgis (COF) and George Harper (ONE) countered and, behind that pair, the peloton slowly began to regroup. Quéméneur still took full points on the penultimate classified climb of the day, the Côte de Briggswath after 130km, ensuring that he will wear the King of the Mountains jersey on Saturday.
On the uphill drag out of Whitby, with just under 40 kilometres still to ride, the peloton finally swept up Quéméneur. Now the serious attacks began: a fifteen-man lead group starring, among others, Samuel Sanchez (BMC), Philip Deignan (SKY), Lars Petter Nordhaug (SKY), David Lopez (SKY), Thomas Voeckler (EUC) came together, leaving the MTN-Qhubeka pair of Janse Van Rensburg and Stephen Cummings caught in no man’s land with BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet. Van Avermaet and Cummings caught the leaders only in time for a further selection to occur on the Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay after 145 kilometres. Near the top of the climb, the lead group shattered under pressure from Deignan, with the Irishman dragging four other riders clear over the summit: his team-mate Nordhaug, Voeckler, Stéphane Rossetto (COF) and Sanchez. This quintet immediately built a lead of 20 seconds over a nine-man chase group – and had extended the gap to over a minute by the time they reached Scarborough.
Sky’s power in numbers
Team Sky sought to make their numerical advantage pay by unleashing Nordhaug with 5 kilometres to go, then, when the Norwegian was caught, by trying with Deignan 2.5 kilometres from the line, again to no avail. The attacks and counters continued until the five leaders rode under the red kite together. At the 300-metre-to-go mark, Sanchez launched his sprint into the headwind gusting down the promenade, but was comfortably overhauled by Rossetto, who in turn couldn’t hold off Nordhaug.
STAGE 2 – HOFLAND TAKES SPLIT-SECOND VICTORY IN YORK!
The LottoNL-Jumbo team was beginning to wonder whether their first victory of the 2015 season would ever arrive. Happily for the Dutch outfit, Moreno Hofland broke the hoodoo in a sprint finish on stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire from Selby to York where 450.000 spectators lined the route. On a day which looked briefly like one for the escape artists, Team Sky were relieved to see the peloton come back together in the finale and their race leader, Lars Petter Nordhaug, retain his narrow advantage on general classification.
After yesterday’s journey to and along the coast, the Tour de Yorkshire peloton headed inland today for stage two. The 132 riders left in the race set out from Selby at 11.20am, cheered by crowds worthy of a Tour de France in both number and volume. Under slate skies, 18 riders including Philip Deignan (SKY), fifth overall and one of the stars yesterday, broke free of the main bunch after five kilometres. Eight of these men remained clear after 16 kilometres: Tennant (WGN), De Backer (TGA), Steels (TSV), Bernaudeau (EUC), Brammeier (MTN), Edet (COF), Slik (ROP) and McNally (MGT).
IAM content to contain
McNally led the group of eight over the first classified climb, 5’15” ahead of a main peloton driven by Team Sky. The same rider would also take maximum points on the Côte de Fimber after 78.5 kilometres, with Edet, Tennant and Brammeier following him over the summit in that order. Back at the front of the main bunch, IAM Cycling were playing a game of containment and allowed the eight escapees’ advantage to increase to over six minutes.
The eight breakaway riders continued to work harmoniously as they headed through the feed zone in Norton (94.5 kilometres) with a lead of just under six minutes. With 60 kilometres to ride, though, the chasing pack and the IAM Cycling and LottoNL-Jumbo teams in particular decided to step up their pursuit. Within ten kilometres, the gap had tumbled to just over four minutes. A bunch sprint suddenly looked like the formality that many had predicted.
Then there were two
The pressure from behind began to take its toll on the leaders as they headed towards the last 50 kilometres. Bernaudeau was the first rider to sit up. The peloton had then reduced its deficit to just over two minutes by the time they swept into York with 40 kilometres to go. Fifteen kilometres later, aware that the peloton was closing, McNally and De Backer attacked from the group of seven. This duo held a one-minute advantage over the peloton as they entered the last 20 kilometres. The remaining five escapees were finally absorbed into the main bunch 17 kilometres from the line.
With 5.5 kilometres to race and the peloton now within 15 seconds, De Backer attacked and dropped McNally. The Belgian would hold off the peloton for a further four kilometres before both his 167-kilometre effort and a short-lived counter attack by Anthony Turgis’s (COF) came to an end.
Relief for LottoNL and Hofland
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) bolted out of the bunch under the kilometre-to-go kite and briefly looked capable of a vintage coup de finisseur. With 200 metres to go, though, the Belgian was swept up in a bunch stampede led home by Moreno Hofland (TLJ). Hofland had been poised on Matteo Pelucchi’s (IAM) rear wheel throughout the last two kilometres, and comfortably beat the Italian into second place. Further back in the main peloton, race leader Lars Petter Nordhaug coasted home to retain his four-second advantage over Thomas Voeckler on general classification with just Sunday’s “Queen Stage” to Leeds remaining. Perrig Quémeneur also keeps his King of the Mountains jersey.
Reports courtesy of ASO. Photography courtesy of ASO / G. DEMOUVEAUX