Guarnier makes birthday wish come true
A perfectly-timed final attack from Boels-Dolmans rider Megan Guarnier saw the American rider take the historic summit finish stage win in Ilkley and, with it, the general classification.
The race began in Barnsley, where the stunning Town Hall provided a perfect backdrop for what would be an amazing day’s racing and it wasn’t far out of the South Yorkshire town that the first test began; the Cote de Blacker Hill.
It was Nicola Juniper (NJC-Biemme-Echelon) who was first over the climb to take the Queen of the Mountains points with Sophie Wright (Torelli-Brother) and Erica Magnaldi (BePink) close behind, but this attack didn’t stick and by the time the sprint at Swinton came around it was a different scene as two top riders from day one rallied to take first and second respectively in the form of overall winner Kirsten Wild (Wiggle High5) and Dani Rowe (Great Britain Cycling Team).
As the race passed into West Yorkshire, Katie Ragusa (BePink) had made a move, managing to put a short distance between herself and the peloton before being joined by Manon Lloyd (Trek-Drops).
The pair did maintain a slender lead for a while but by the time the sprint at Swinton came around they were being reined in.
Lloyd was able to hold on to take maximum points in the sprint but Wild and Rowe managed to ride back on to take second and third.
With around 25km to go, another move was made. This time by world champion Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) with a smart move up the road to try and set up her team mate Megan Guarnier to take the stage, and the overall win, with two hard climbs approaching, the first of which being Cote de Old Pool Bank.
This 1km climb at a gradient of 10% was taken by Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) ahead of Alena Amialusk (Canyon Sram) and Dani Rowe.
Amialusk and Rowe would take second and third once more on the final climb, the Cote de Cow and Calf but it wasn’t Borghini who would take the overall honours. It was birthday girl Megan Guarnier who would power up the climb after a perfectly timed attack to win the 2018 Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s race and bring the curtain down on another great sporting spectacle.
Guarnier addressed the crowds on the podium, saying: “That was really hard. But I can only say, I have never had a crowd like the one coming up that climb. It was so loud, you were so amazing and it was so cool to win after all those cheers!”