May 3 rd 2018 - 20:37 [GMT + 1]
While many were expecting a bunched sprint on the final straight in Doncaster, Yorkshireman Harry Tanfield surprised the field by claiming stage 1 victory after a long breakaway alongside several other riders. The Canyon-Eisberg rider and his 4 surviving companions managed to stay clear of the hungry pack. Tanfield eventually outsprinted Alistair Slater and Michael Cuming to conquer the greatest win of his young career and the overall leadership of the Tour de Yorkshire.
After being welcomed in style by a huge crowd in the city of Beverley, 137 riders took off under a bright sunshine just before 2:00 for the first stage of the 4th edition of the men’s Tour de Yorkshire. After a very fast start, six men eventually managed to break away at km 6: Journiaux (TDE), Cuming (MGT), Slater (JLT), Baylis (ONE), Oronte (RLY) and Tanfield (BCC).
Their advantage over the pack grew rapidly and reached 5’10’’ at km 26. As Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data team took on the chase, the gap started dropping. At km 50, the front six could still enjoy a 4’ lead. Apparently under the control of a pack led by teams Dimension Data, Sunweb and Vital Concept, the front group again gained time.
At the top of the first and only classified hill of the day, (Baggaby Hill, km 89), Cuming conquered the most KOM points (4) ahead of Baylis and Journiaux while the pack remained 5’15’’ adrift. Taking off on his own at km 90, Tanfield made it first at the intermediate sprint (km 92,5) with a lead of 15’’ over Slater and Journiaux, but his solo effort, so far from the finish, prooved to be vain as he awaited his breakaway companions.
The chase continued and the gap dropped again. At the second bonus sprint in Howden (km 125,5) claimed by Slater ahead of Journiaux and Tanfield, the peloton had moved seriously closer: 3’10’’. With 25kms to go, the front six however still had a 1’55’’ lead. A gap that dropped to 1’45’’ with 20kms to go. Young Frenchman, Axel Journiaux in his first pro year was the first to struggle and was dropped from the front group, leaving five men continue on their quest for glory.
The battle continued and with 10kms to go, the leaders could still count on a 1’05’’ advantage. The front men saw their hopes remain well alive as the pack still remained 35’’ behind with 5kms to go. And despite dropping, that gap was still big enough for the five front men to start considering victory. Indeed, they would never be caught. On the final straight in Doncaster, Harry Tanfield perfectly timed his effort and powered to the line to claim stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire. A dream come true for the local hero from North Yorkshire who beat Alistair Slater and Michael Cuming.
Tanfield captures the overall leader’s blue jersey enjoying an advantage of 3’’ on Slater and 10’’ on Cuming before stage 2 between Barnsley and Ilkley. The Canyon Eisberg rider also leads the points classification while Cuming will tomorrow wear the red jersey as best climber of the event. The first race leader of this 2018 edition also captured the most aggressive rider’s gray jersey.