Cort Nielsen, king of the Cow and Calf

May 4 th 2018 - 21:50 [GMT + 1]

On the first ever mountain top finish of the Tour de Yorkshire, Magnus Cort Nielsen conquered an impressive stage 2 victory at the top of Cow and Calf in Ilkley. The Dane from the Astana team managed to outsprint race favourite Greg Van Avermaet to the line while Prades finished third. Thanks to his win, 25-year-old Cort Nielsen claims the overall leader’s blue jersey with two stages to go.

The slightly cloudy sky didn’t prevent a huge crowd from gathering in Barnsley to cheer on the heroes of the Tour de Yorkshire. 137 riders took off at 2:46 PM for a 149km ride to Ilkley and its dreaded Cow and Calf climb. The first 50kms of the race were fast and furious with several breakaway attemps but no significant gap and a crash involving sprinter Bryan Coquard (VCC). Eventually 7 men powered away: Bevin (BMC), Stannard (SKY), De Vreese (AST), Frohlinger (SUN), Irizar (EUS), McCormick (ONE) and Ben Swift (GBR). 

They reached the top of the first climb (km 22) led by De Vreese with a slim 20’’ advantage. That gap remained the same at the first intermediate sprint (km 41,5) won by Swift ahead of Bevin and Irizar. With quite a few big guns in the break, the pack continued chasing and the front 7 were eventually caught at km 45.5. Just after the peloton bunched together, Rossetto (COF) pulled away. He was later to be joined by Horton (MGT), Bravo (EUS) and Baylis (ONE) already present in yesterday’s breakaway. The advantage of the leading 4 grew rapidly and reached 2’ at km 61. It grew to a maximum 2’55’’ at km 80 before starting to drop progressively.

At the second bonus sprint in Scholes (km 104) won by Baylis in front of Horton and Bravo, the gap remained 2’ adrift. At km 113, Horton was the first to be dropped and caught by the pack leaving three men in the lead. Eventually with just under 25kms to go, Stephane Rossetto remained alone in the lead while his former companions were caught. The Frenchman could still enjoy a 40’’ lead 20kms from the finish but he was finally gobbled up by the hungry pack led by team BMC. Cuming then made it first at the top of the Cote de Old Pool Bank comforting his best climber’s red jersey ahead of Basso (SKY) and Wyss (BMC) while overal leader Tanfield was dropped.

Despite a final solo attempt from Jacob Scott (ONE) at km 142, the pack remained bunched before the final climb up Cow and Calf, a steep 1.8km ascent at an average of 8.2%. Well led out by an Astana team mate, Magnus Cort Nielsen perfectly timed his effort eventually beating Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Eduard Prades (EUS) to the line. The Dane clinches his second win of the season after winning stage 4 of the Tour of Oman back in February. The 25-year-old conquers the overall leader’s blue jersey and has a 4’’ advantage over Van Avermaet and 6’’ over Prades with two stages to go. Winner of yesterday’s stage, Harry Tanfield keeps command of the points classification. The most active rider’s jersey goes to Thomas Baylis (ONE).

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