The 5th edition of the Tour de Yorkshire got underway in a familiar setting this afternoon, as Doncaster changed gears and hosted the start of the race as opposed to one of its famed, exciting finishes.
182.5km, two intermediate sprints and one categorised climb awaited the riders in a stage which everyone thought would end in a bunch sprint; after last year’s shock result which saw local hero Harry Tanfield take the victory on a similar style stage as the break held off the bunch.
The weather conditions weren’t reflective of a year ago and for a time it was thought that thunderstorms could erupt. However, it was metaphorical lightning that hit the race as, for a second year running, the breakway held off the bunch with Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) taking the stage victory; and with it, control of the General Classification standings.
Earlier in the day, fans turned out in their droves to welcome a list of riders, potentially unrivalled in the history of the race.
Local favourites returned to ride on their home roads as Tom Pidcock, British National Champion Connor Swift and last year’s stage winner in Doncaster, Harry Tanfield all signed on to rapturous applause.
They were then joined by two race winners including the reigning champion, Greg Van Avermaet and 2017 champion Serge Pauwels who, after battling it out as rivals in the general classification in 2018, have joined forces to try and help their team CCC take the spoils once again this year.
This is definitely the biggest victory of my career and I still can’t believe it. It’s really awesome and I will never forget today.
The plan was to get in the break and go for the best climber’s jersey. On the climb I had no explosivity in my legs though so was angry. I kept pushing out of frustration but I thought we’d get caught because the gap was going down really fast in the last 50km. We kept riding really hard and everyone worked well together. In the last few kilometres I realised it might be possible and gambled to start my sprint at the right moment. I went full gas and looked under my elbow near the line and saw there was a big gap behind and I couldn’t believe I was going to win.
We are really happy with this result and it was a beautiful victory. Now let’s see what happens about defending the leader’s jersey. The last day looks really tough but maybe this jersey will give me an extra boost.
Yorkshire is an awesome place to ride your bike and the fans are always incredible. It’s fantastic that they came out in this weather and it gives you goosebumps to ride through crowds like that. It’s really cool to be here – like being in one of the Classics or the Grand Tours – the public are so enthusiastic. I will never forget today.
After a disappointing couple of seasons caused by a series of illnesses, Mark Cavendish returned to Yorkshire with self-deprecating comments about his chances but a look in his eye that alluded to the Manx Missile feeling as though he was slowly returning back to form.
Team Sky, who won the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire back in 2015, launched their new identity and kit a day prior to the 2019 edition and Team INEOS was introduced to the cycling world. Fan favourites of this world-renowned team were joined at the start line by one of cycling’s all-time greats, Chris Froome, who lined up for the Tour de Yorkshire for the first time.
Once singing was done, it was all business and the peloton went into the race nervy of the ability of a potential breakaway, but just a few kilometres in a group of riders formed and took off at the head of the course.
The race was then run at a fairly relaxed pace, with the peloton happy to the let the seven riders in the break head on to take the first sprint points of the day with Jacob Hennessy (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) taking the bonus, closely followed by Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 champion, Kevin Vermaerke (Hagens Berman Axeon) and Dan Bigham (Team Ribble).
Hennessy would also go on to take the King of the Mountains points after summiting the 1.9km @ 4.6% Cote de Baggaby Hill; and with them, the LNER Red King of the Mountains jersey.
It’s becoming a habit of Canyon riders to form a breakaway and make their mark in Yorkshire and Jacob Hennessy did just that. Not content with the points he had already accrued, he went on to take the second sprint points in Pocklington too.
With 23km to go, the break was down to 4 men and their advantage at 1 minute 53 seconds. A few of the World Tour teams sensed that they needed to gain some control of the race but CCC had bigger problems as reigning champion Greg Van Avermaet suffered a puncture and required a wheel change.
The peloton started to reel in the break but 4 riders refused to give up their lead. Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles), eventual Dimension Data jersey winner Dan Bigham (Team Ribble), Sean Flynn (Great Britain Cycling Team) and Kevin Vermaerke (Hagens Berman Axeon) all pushed on.
As the race thundered towards Selby it was Jesper Asselman who had enough left in the tank to hold off the approaching peloton to take an historic win for Roompot Charles and etch his name into Tour de Yorkshire folklore.
Our break looks like it has formed for Stage One with 7 men: @DanBiggles22 @seanflynn @WillTidball1066 @kvermaerke @jacob_hennessy1 @jamesfouche98 @JesperAsselman #TDY https://t.co/tSEN2eJYnu
Tour de Yorkshire 2019 – Eve of Tour Press conference held at Leeds Civic Centre. With Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Greg van Avermaet, Christian Prudhomme, Lizzie Diegnan, Gabriella Shaw, Dame Sarah Storey and Peter Dodd. ©All content CyclingShorts.cc / Chris Maher
Oh, I’m very happy but I was a little bit frustrated to be honest, I got to that backend and had nothing left in that sprint.
It was a bit like last year but obviously I didn’t have the kick that Harry had. Obviously, we are track team teammates so I had a few hints from him but honestly, I’m real happy, I was really active, doing everything to try and keep that breakaway. I had a few goes at sprints and King of the Mountain and got second in that. My legs aren’t quite what they were a week or two ago but still, it was a really good day out so I’m well happy.
His plans for the rest of the race?
Probably the same again tomorrow maybe, why not?
Stage 1 Results
Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles)
Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries GC Jersey
Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles)
Asda Points Jersey
Jacob Hennessy (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes)
LNER King of the Mountains Jersey
Daniel Bigham - Ribble Pro Cycling
Dimension Data Most Aggressive
TdY Preview - Stage 2
The Tour de Yorkshire continues on Friday morning with the first Stage of the Women’s TdY, and is followed in the afternoon, by stage 2 of the men’s race.
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