5 iconic Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race moments
In just under a month we would have all descended on Beverley for the start of the sixth edition of Yorkshire’s annual cycling extravaganza, the Tour de Yorkshire.
Unfortunately, that is now no longer the case. The global coronavirus pandemic has affected all elements of life and it would just not be safe or responsible to go ahead with the race during such a difficult and complex time.
The tour will be back, and swathes of fans will once again pour out onto the roadside to cheer on the peloton as it zooms past. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that will certainly be the case for Yorkshire’s sporting showcase.
For now though we have our short but spectacular history to reflect on. In five editions we have seen drama, breakaways, the tightest of victories and the sweetest of stories and we’ve tried to pick five of the most iconic moments below.
5 - Breakaway Dreams
Beverley, resplendent at the worst of times, is an absolute picture. Saturday Market is packed to the rafters with a mix of school children and cycling fans as the teams come out to huge applause for the start of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire. Yes, there’s some big names but there’s one in particular the fans have come out to see – Mark Cavendish.
Having missed the first three editions of the race due to availability and injury issues, the Manx Missile finally takes to the start line in Yorkshire and it’s a stage that he is not only expected to compete in, but he is favourite to win. The course is 182km long bar the small matter of Baggerby Hill (1.9km long but at a “leisurely” 4.6% average gradient) the expectation is that the sprinters will be duking it out for victory when the peloton arrives into Doncaster later that day.
The breakaway forms and, as per the norm, is made up mostly of riders from the smaller, domestic teams; Ali Slater (JLT Condor), Harry Tanfield (Bike Channel Canyon), Mike Cuming (Madison Genesis), Thomas Baylis (ONE Pro Cycling) and Emerson Oronte (Rally). The gap never goes above 3 minutes as the breakaway keep the peloton at arm’s length. The kilometres begin to tick down as does the time gap as it sits around the 2-minute mark. As we get to about 20km to go, the time gap remains but, crucially, it’s not coming down quickly enough. 10km and the gap is still sizeable. It’s not possible, is it?
The peloton continues to drag its heels as no single team want to take up the cudgels and chase this break down and it quickly becomes clear that the winner is going to come from these escapees. The breakaway size each other up and in the end, it is the Yorkshireman Tanfield who goes deepest, sweeping round from the back to overtake them all and to take the stage victory.
Re-watch the final KM in the film below
You’re a wizard, Harry.
4 - Vos is boss
Biblical. The only word to describe the weather that teems down in Bridlington in 2019, as the riders scurry down to the sign on podium on the East Yorkshire seafront. The inflatable start line billows in the wind as a truly world class peloton of riders make their way to depart. Lizzie Deignan, Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos, Chantal Blaak, the names go on and on.
On any given day this is a stage for only the best & toughest cyclist as the 132km course sees 5 categorised climbs including the brutal 1.2km (at 10% gradient) Lythe Bank. Today, it’s even worse though as the sky is dark with rage and conditions are truly atrocious.
That doesn’t put the star names off though as first van der Breggen, followed by Deignan, attempt something special with early attacks after the descent into Robin Hood’s Bay. These attacks put paid to many riders’ hopes in the peloton as individuals are continually spat out of the back of the bunch. Deignan and van der Breggen are reeled in by Sandsend and then it’s the reigning time trial champion van Vleuten who decides to attack. Again, this causes more and more casualties.
Along the top of a windswept North York Moors, an elite bunch ride at a tempo before Soraya Paladin forces aa move which only Mavi Garcia and Marianne Vos can match. On the final categorised climb, Garcia attempts to pull clear and it looks to have worked as she extends a gap over the other two at the summit. Unfortunately for her, there’s still 30km to go until the finish line and Paladin and Vos re-join her as they head to the Scarborough seafront.
Ironically, as they take the final turns into town, the sun decides to make an appearance yet, as the riders take the final bend, it looks like they are riding in slow motion such is the strength of the headwind they face. Unluckily for Garcia and Paladin, they’re up against one of arguably the greatest cyclists ever in Vos as they both try, in vain, to beat her. The result is inevitable though as Vos gives one last burst of firepower and the day is won.
3 - The Final Victory
It’s 2016 and the rain is trickling down in Middlesbrough. It’s the final stage of three days of gruelling racing in the second edition of the Tour de Yorkshire. Stage One was won by Dylan Groenewegen in Settle on a day that was so windy, wet and cold that by the next day even the plane filming the action decided it wasn’t really keen, as Danny van Poppel won in Doncaster.
Following two days of relatively flat (if Yorkshire can ever be described as flat) racing that resulted in two bunch sprint finishes, the standings were all very close together. It became fairly obvious that, on a final day course not suited for sprinters, whoever crossed the line first in Scarborough would in all probability be crowned champion.
The day’s 198km of action included 6 leg-sapping categorised climbs including Sutton Bank, Grosmont and Robin Hood’s Bay. Each climb saw riders fall away as the peloton was whittled down slowly but surely until an elite bunch of riders remained. This included stellar names like Steven Kruijswijk, Adam Yates, Anthony Turgis and Nico Roche, with 2015 champion Lars Petter Nordhaug and Gianni Moscon a few seconds further back. Above all these names though, one stuck out – the wily old fox, Thomas Voeckler. Each rider took it in turn to attack and eventually it was narrowed down to two following an attack on Oliver's Mount – Voeckler and Roche the pair involved – with commentary fancying Roche as the faster finisher.
Voeckler was having none of it though. He sat on Roche’s wheel as they turned the final bend in Scarborough with the scars of being bested in 2015 potentially still on the Frenchmen’s mind. With a few hundred metres to go, Roche glances over his right shoulder and as he turns to look ahead again, Voeckler goes. Roche tries to react but it’s futile after a brutal day in the saddle and Voeckler, teeth clenched, raises two clenched fists in celebration. This would prove to be the final victory in a glittering career as Voeckler etched his name into the heart and folklore of the race forever.
These highlights are well worth a view:
“Incroyable, ho, ho, ho,” was Voeckler’s verdict after the race. It certainly was, Thomas.
2 - Homegrown Hero
The 2016 Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race began in Otley, hometown of Yorkshire’s most recent world champion Lizzie Deignan. Deignan, adorned in the rainbow stripes following her 2015 victory in the Road World Championships in Richmond (not that one), was lining up to compete in the race for the first time and all eyes were on her. Unfortunately, the course was not suited to the Otley native (she prefers a tough, gritty Yorkshire course!) and despite a significant amount of time in the breakway, Deignan was not able to win in Doncaster.
Fast forward 12 months to Tadcaster, and a course better suited to Deignan. Unfortunately for her, there’s a raft of talent involved in the race – including from her own team – as van der Breggen, Giorgia Bronzini, Ellen van Dijk and Dani King are all on the start line too. Unlike in 2018 & 2019, there isn’t a second day opportunity – whoever crosses the line first wins the overall race – so the pressure is on.
The key part of the race was obvious. Obvious in that it was beautifully savage. The Cote de Lofthouse is one of the toughest climbs in Yorkshire – over 2km long with an average gradient of over 11% it was always likely to be the breaking point for many in the peloton. It became clear this would be brutal, such was the pace that was set on it by the strongest riders, as by the top only 18 riders remained in contention for the stage.
It was at this point that a trio formed – Deignan, teammate van der Breggen and King – as they pulled away from the rest of the breakaway. Then 15km from home, Deignan made the decisive break. This was not guaranteed at this point, as the remaining 15 from the Lofthouse climb were being pulled along by Sunweb and Wiggle, with the speedy finisher Coryn Riviera cruising under the radar. However, by the time Deignan entered the leafy streets of Harrogate it was clear she wouldn’t be caught. As the sun beamed down on her, she drank in the energy and excitement of a packed crowd as she rode to the finish line with her arms aloft. The first Yorkshire winner of the race.
Watch stage highlights here:
“It was really special for me to finish here and feel so much support,” said Deignan. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a victory. It’s been a tough year. To crown it like this, to move on and to move on with local support was very special.”
1 - 100km to go...
Being asked to pick the most iconic moment in the Tour de Yorkshire’s history is a little bit like asking a parent to pick their favourite child (they probably have one, but they don’t really like to admit it…). Of all the editions of the Tour de Yorkshire, perhaps 2018 was the best though. Firstly, it was gloriously sunny & warm for four days which lead to the race having the largest crowds we’ve ever witnessed, which clearly adds to the overall spectacle. This was matched by unprecedented drama and shock throughout – the Tanfield win earlier as previously mentioned in this list, Guarnier and Cort Neilson winning on the top of Cow and Calf, Walschied’s sprint into Scarborough and the Belgian legend Greg Van Avermaet winning the overall race to add his incredible name to the race history record books.
However, all these moments perhaps pale into insignificance when compared to the achievements of Stéphane Rossetto.
Rossetto is no stranger to Yorkshire. He is actually one of only three men to have ridden every kilometre of road during the five editions of the Tour de Yorkshire to date. However, what he achieved in 2018 was nothing short of remarkable.
Similar to previous years, many felt that heading into the final stage whoever won in Leeds would probably end up with the overall Tour de Yorkshire crown for 2018 due to the tough nature of a course that included 6 categorised climbs. A lot of pundits also felt that, due to these 6 climbs, it would be a good day to get in the breakaway as there was no clear leader in the KOM classification. So, a good climber in the breakaway would stand a good chance of bagging either the mountains classification jersey, the most active rider jersey or, if they REALLY fancied it, could win their height in beer by being the first to pass race sponsors Black Sheep Brewery in Masham.
Therefore, it was of little surprise to see Rossetto, a rouleur extraordinaire with a penchant for breakaways, as part of this initial group. He formed part of a five-man group with Hayden McCormick (One Pro Cycling) Rich Handley (Madison Genesis) Gabriel Cullaigh (Team GB) and Max Stedman (Canyon Eisberg). Stedman and Rossetto soon shook off the other three after the first climb and the two of them ploughed on together, sharing the mountain points on the Goose Eye and Barden Moor climbs.
It was on the approach to Park Rash that Rossetto decided it was time to go alone. He was 115km from the finish line. He attacked and then on the insidiously steep section of Park Rash seemed to gain time on everyone as he continued to put the hammer down taking maximum KOM points at the top. He was not done there though. He pushed on towards Greenhow and took this climb in his stride too. It was only with roughly 60km to go that his lead started to come down. By the time Rossetto reached the final climb on Otley Chevin, he had 3 minutes on the peloton still and he took full points here, guaranteeing the mountains jersey (and 6ft of Black Sheep beer too).
By the time the Frenchman entered the outskirts of Leeds, and it was clear he wouldn’t be caught, he finally allowed himself the briefest of celebrations as he raised one hand slightly off his handle bar and clenched it in glory before stopping his GPS computer as he crossed the line. A muted celebration for what was one of the most incredible feats in cycling in 2018.
What a day it was, enjoy it again below:
On his victory, Rossetto said: “It’s the most beautiful win of my career. It is a race that has more and more value, it has history now, it has an amazing crowd and so many spectators. It’s like being on the Tour de France here.”
This article was written by Tom Ashurst. We hope you enjoyed our run down of these 5 iconic moments in the history of the Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race. We appreciate that there are other moments that might mean more to you, so we would love it if you shared your favourite moments with us on social media too.