Glorious Greg wins the title, as Rossetto wows on the day
Stage four of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire was dubbed the ‘queen’ stage, but it was Stephane Rossetto who was king of the road today.
The Cofidis Solutions rider produced a spectacular performance, riding over 100km in a solo breakaway to take stage 4 on the Headrow in Leeds; the start point of the Grandest Ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France just four years ago.
Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) was crowned the overall winner of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire as he finished second in a thrilling sprint to the line that included title rivals, Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data) and Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias).
Prades Reverter and Pauwels took second and third respectively in the general classification with Van Avermaet’s team, BMC Racing Team taking the team classification – a result that was dedicated to Andy Rihs, the owner of the team who passed away last month.
The day began with a roll out from the Piece Hall in Halifax and the only surviving intact cloth hall in the UK acted as an amphitheatre for Yorkshire’s greatest show.
The first of five categorised climbs came at the Côte de Hebden Bridge where three riders from a breakaway group of five took the points. Hayden McCormick (One Pro Cycling), took first ahead of Rich Handley (Madison Genesis) and Gabriel Cullaigh (Team GB).
Early attacks had threatened to split the race wide open with Astana riding economically perfect to try and lead out their man, and blue jersey holder, Magnus Cort Nielsen.
The next climb came at Goose Eye and it was contested by Stephane Rossetto and Max Stedman (Canyon Eisberg) where Stedman lost his chain before managing to hook it back on and sprint past the Frenchman to take the points. Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) took third.
By the time the third climb of the day came around at Barden Moor, Rossetto and Stedman were still out on their own with a one minute and fifty second advantage over a second group of pursuers.
Stedman took the points and looked to be in control of the King of the Mountains jersey, but that was before Rossetto took off to take the sprint at Kilnsey and, just before the dreaded Park Rash climb took off on a solo breakaway to increase his advantage to seven minutes.
First place on the next two climbs would not be contested as Rossetto continued his miraculous solo break.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton Magnus Cort Nielsen had lost touch and been dropped, with his hopes of the GC win slipping away, Greg Van Avermaet and his BMC team mobilised.
Van Avermaet did take bonus points here to add to his advantage and looked increasingly likely to take the overall win; with no one looking close to getting past him and race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen over a minute behind.
Rossetto was buoyed by the support of the crowds as he entered the city centre and held his fist aloft, cheering with his fans as he rode over the line.
Shortly behind were the GC contenders and it was Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet who came in next, joining an exclusive list, that of the Tour de Yorkshire winners.
Stage winner Stephane 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.”
Overall winner Greg Van Avermaet said: “It was our goal to win this race for him (Andy Rihs), tomorrow is his funeral and the demonstration from the team today was really for him and I was so happy to be able to finish it off here in Leeds as it was not that easy.”
“It was a super hard stage, but when the race opened up we still had three of four guys and I was pretty surprised. From here, we started to control and everybody did 100% his best and I’m so happy to finish it off.”
Is the atmosphere and terrain as good as the Grand Tours?
“Yeah, I think it’s similar for sure it’s got more spectators than in Spain and it’s something special, I think this is very similar to Le Tour.”
“The crowds all throughout the week have been amazing, I remember from the Tour de France here and the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015 and this year we were lucky with the weather and the crowds came out even more. This race really has its place on the calendar and it’s pretty amazing so I hope to be back here again next year.”
Watch Overall Tour de Yorkshire Highlights
Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries General Classification Jersey: Greg Van Avermaet
Asda Points Jersey: Greg Van Avermaet
Virgin Trains King of the Mountains Jersey: Stephane Rossetto
Dimension Data Digital Jersey (Most Active Rider): Stephane Rossetto