Words by Anna Magrath Images by Chris Maher
Record Crowds for Spectacular Day 2 of Tour de Yorkshire
Over one million spectators came out to cheer on the riders for the second day of the Tour de Yorkshire, as the county celebrated a ground breaking day for women’s cycling.
Glorious sunshine started the day in Otley for the hotly anticipated Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race where World Champion Lizzie Armitstead led the peloton out of her hometown.
Crowds bigger than those who witnessed the Grand Départ in Otley cheered on as 100 of the world’s best female riders took part including Rio hopeful Emma Pooley; Dani King and Lucy Garner from British squad Wiggle High5, Hitec Products brought one of the world’s strongest sprinters Kirsten Wild and Dame Sarah Storey took part – Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian in history.
Speaking before the start Lizzie Armitstead, racing in her World Champions jersey for the first time in the UK, paid tribute to her home town of Otley and the immense support she was receiving.
The 136km race was a game changer for women’s cycling in the UK as it took the same route as the men’s and offered over £50,000 (€63,623) – currently the biggest prize pot in women’s cycling.
The winner of the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire was Kirsten Wild from Team Hitec Products who crossed the finish line in Doncaster before thousands of cheering fans.
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said:
“Today has been an historic day for women’s cycling and it’s been a spectacular day of racing. The crowds were once again phenomenal and to see how the people of Yorkshire have taken this event to their hearts is just overwhelming. There was so much spirit and positivity in Yorkshire today it was magnificent to see. Clearly the one thing we would have changed if we could was the fact we had intermittent live TV coverage but I must stress that safety is paramount. Unfortunately there was a serious technical fault with the plane relaying the TV signal, the plane had to be grounded and the TV coverage could not continue for this reason.
“Fans and communities have continued their spectacular support for the Tour de Yorkshire not just from the routes but also digitally by sharing images, footage and updates to keep the public informed. Please keep tweeting and following @letouryorkshire and we will be putting highlights online tonight.
“We are now focussed on the day ahead tomorrow from Middlesbrough to Scarborough which promises to be an exhilarating race!”
Kirsten Wild: The plan was to let a little group go with one of us in the break, unfortunately that didn’t work out, the girls did a good chase and we caught them in the final, it was really good work. The sprint was hard, I started a bit too early, and I thought maybe not, there was a really strong headwind, so I let one girl pass and I could follow her and then pass her in the final again. There were a lot of people on the roadside it was really nice to have that support. It’s good to win here in Doncaster.
Lucy Garner: “I couldn’t quite get around Kirsten for the sprint, everyone know she’s an awesome sprinter, she’s definitely the one to beat here today in a sprint, actually for me I’ve not been 100% healthy coming into this race so I couldn’t have asked for more today, especially from my team Wiggle High-5, they did an awesome job to bring the three that were away back. It would have been great if we had a rider up in the break, so we did have to work hard to bring them back but there were other teams working with us who also wanted a sprint finish. We caught the back [of the train] with 4km to go and then it was just a case of focusing on the sprint finish. We knew we had to look out for Lizzie [Armitstead] she’s on great form this season and has won so many races, it’s just lucky for us her breakaway didn’t stay away.”
Lizzie Armitstead: “I wanted to put on an aggressive race and a bit of a show, it’s what it’s all about cycling, it’s a bit of an entertainment show at the end of the day. I wanted to be able to get stuck in and have a go. There were a couple of moments where I thought we could stay away [from the peloton] we were holding them at about a minute and the team car came up and they told us the organisation in the chase is not very good so just keep plugging away, but when we tried towards Doncaster and it was just a block headwind we weren’t getting above 45km per hour I thought, right they are going to be closing that gap pretty quickly.
By the time we were caught I’d burnt all my matches, I tried to get stuck in and help some of the younger girls on my team but actually they didn’t need it, they were quicker than me, so i was really proud of the way GB rode today, there are some young girls in the team and I think they have very bright futures. The course lived up to my expectations, in fact it was better, stating in Otley it was a goose pimple moment. All along the course there were people shouting so thank you to everyone who turned out.”
Overall, the winner of the blue Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire jersey was Kirsten Wild; her Hitech teammate Lauren Kitchen took the navy jersey of the Aunt Bessie’s sprint; Rossella Ratto of Cyclance Pro Cycling won the pink Mug Shot Queen of the Mountain jersey; the Howden’s Joinery/RNLI white jersey for best young newcomer went to Lucy Garner and the purple best team classification was awarded by Doncaster Sheffield Airport/Flybe to the Great Britain team.
More images and interviews from the race to come so watch this space!