April 19, 2018
Van Avermaet wins Tour of Yorkshire
BMC's Greg Van Avermaet has won the fourth edition of the Tour of Yorkshire. The Belgian won the UCI 2.1 four day stage race after finishing in a ten man break 34 seconds behind stage winner Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) on the final day in Leeds.
A hot bank holiday weekend in Yorkshire saw record breaking crowds flock to the route of the fourth edition of th Tour of Yorkshire. With temperatures hitting highs for the time of year the racing was equally fast paced.
Stage One, 182km from Beverley to Doncaster, saw a trio of Brits on the podium with Harry Tanfield (Canyon Eisberg) beating Alistair Slater (JLT Condor), with Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis) third after a five man break reached the line just five seconds ahead of a hard-chasing peloton.
The 23 year old from nearby Great Ayton worked his way into the day’s main breakaway and then played a pivotal role as the escapees evaded the peloton on the 182km trek from Beverley.
Huge crowds turned out in Beverley to see the start of the fourth edition and beautiful conditions meant the county was at its magnificent best as the riders wound their way through the Yorkshire Wolds and then headed south towards Doncaster for that dramatic finish along Bennetthorpe. 450,000 roadside spectators set a record figure for the first stage of the race.
The breakaway group containing Tanfield formed early in the stage and Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis) was the first rider over the Côte de Baggaby Hill to earn himself a spell in the best climber’s jersey sponsored by Virgin Trains.
With 300 metres to go Tanfield turned on the afterburners and edged past Alistair Slater (JLT Condor) to become the first-ever Yorkshireman to win a stage of the race.
Stage Two, 149km from Barnsley to Ilkley, saw Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) win the stage at the head of a heavily fractured peloton. The Dane outsprinted a five man break containing Van Avermaet, Eduard Prades (Euskadi - Murias), after launching a devastating attack on Cote de Cow and Calf in front of immense crowds.
Defending champion Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data) kicked things off on the infamous ascent but was passed by Olympic gold medallist Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) on one of the steepest sections. All the while Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) had been waiting in the wings though and the Dane timed his last-gasp attack to perfection and stole the headlines. It was the Tour de Yorkshire’s first-ever summit finish and the win gave the Cort Nielsen the race lead leader’s blue jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries and opened up a four-second advantage over Van Avermaet at the top of the general classification.
Magnus Cort Nielsen said: “It was a relatively short stage today but a really hard one. My team supported me and I am very grateful to them for believing in me. I gave everything I had in that uphill sprint to the line and now I want to defend this jersey. I’m really enjoying this race. It’s not a WorldTour race but with the crowds it certainly feels like it. There are so many people on the side of the roads and it’s like racing the Tour de France.”
Stage Three, 184km from Richmond to Scarborough, gave the ever greater crowds another feast of cycling. Some 650,000 people had lined the route with a fair number of them crammed into Scarborough to see the sprinters battle it out.
It had looked as though French rider Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Énergie) was going to spoil the sprinters’ party once again, but the three-time Tour de France stage winner was caught with just 300m to go and Maximillian Walscheid (Team Sunweb) fired past him to seal his first victory of the season.
Friday’s stage winner Magnus Cort Nielsen crossed the line just inches behind to take second place, and bonus seconds on the line saw him tighten his grip on the blue leader’s jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries. Astana Pro Team Rider now leads Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) by 10 seconds with just the final ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ stage remaining.
900,000 people had flocked to final stage four, a testing hilly 189.5km from Halifax to Leeds. While the result saw Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) wrapping up the overall victory it was Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) who set pulses racing and the crowds screaming with a dramatic solo stage win.
Rossetto’s came after the Frenchman launched an audacious solo attack with 120km of the brutally tough ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ remaining. Defying the odds the 31 year old evaded a vastly reduced peloton to seal the biggest stage win of his career and top the best climber classification sponsored by Virgin Trains in the process. Not surprisingly, Rossetto was also awarded the grey most active rider jersey sponsored by Dimension Data.
Van Avermaet sprinted home 37 seconds behind Rossetto in second place to tie up the race leader’s blue jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, nine seconds ahead of Spaniard Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias). Last year’s race winner Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data) rounded out the podium, five seconds further adrift. The bonus points Van Avermaet accrued on the line also saw him win the best sprinter classification sponsored by Asda.
2018 Tour de Yorkshire champion Greg Van Avermaet said: “I’m happy I could achieve the race win because it was certainly not easy today. The fans were amazing, and for the whole four days actually. I remember from the Tour de France, and when I last raced here in 2015, what it was like, and with this sunny weather even more fans came out. It was really special.
“The parcours was fantastic as well with a lot of variation over the four stages and this race definitely deserves its place on the calendar. I hope to come back and defend my title next year.”
Stage four winner Stéphane Rossetto said: “This is my third professional win and certainly my most beautiful. I did it on a race that is growing in stature all the time, has more history now, and an amazing crowd. It’s been like riding the Tour de France over the last four days.”