It was a stage set for a sprinter but it was the break that stole the show.
There were many famous names banded around to take today’s stage, Cavendish, Swift, Blythe, Coquard, Cort Nielsen; but it was the grit and determination of Harry Tanfield (Canyon Eisberg) that led to victory on stage one of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire.
Tanfield made history with this win, becoming the first UK and, to the delight of the county, the first Yorkshire rider to win a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and, in doing so, leads the general classification by three seconds going into day 2.
The return of Mark Cavendish was the story in Beverley. After a couple of injuries had left him unable to compete the Dimension Data sprinter was back and, as he stood atop of the sign-on stage earlier in the day, the Manx Missile exclaimed:
‘I saw that the race was starting on a Thursday and I didn’t expect there to be any crowds, but then I remembered, we’re in Yorkshire!’
This statement was met with rapturous applause and that applause and support continued throughout all 182km of stage one of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire as 450,000 people turned out to support the riders as they made their way from the East to the South of the county. This is the most that have ever turned out for an opening stage of the race.
Six riders set their stall out early and attacked to form a break. These riders were Ali Slater (JLT Condor), Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis), Thomas Baylis (One Pro Cycling), Emerson Oronte (Rally Cycling), Axel Journiaux (Direct Energie) and, eventual winner, Harry Tanfield (Canyon Eisberg).
As the break approached the first, and only climb of the day, the Cote de Baggaby Hill, it was Cuming who showed his strength to take the points, with Baylis and Journiaux not far behind. From here came the descent into Pocklington which was the location for the first of two sprints.
Tanfield showed his power for the first time of the day to take the sprint points ahead of Slater and Journiaux and keep the points within the break and this didn’t change during the second sprint of the day at Howden, as Slater and Journiaux took first and second, with Tanfield bursting through late to take third.
Tanfield had already shown so much grit and determination that is synonymous with Yorkshire folk and this made him an easy choice for the public as they voted him as the Most Aggressive Rider of the day (Dimension Data Digital Jersey).
As the riders approached Doncaster, the peloton started to reel in the breakaway and cut down the time difference. However, the gap stayed open and the break saw their chance – and they took it.
Ali Slater and Michael Cuming were in touching distance of the line but it was Great Ayton’s Harry Tanfield that chose a perfect line to come from fifth of five to burst through the middle of the pack, showing immense power.
Arms aloft, the delight was clear and Yorkshire has a new stage winner to add to the history books, only this time – he’s one of their own.
Tanfield said: “When we heard on the radio that we still had a 30 second lead with 5km to go, I thought something was wrong but as we approached the 3km sign and I couldn’t see them I said, let’s ride and I just kept shouting at the guys, we can do it, we can do it!”
On his ‘sprint finish’ he joked: “I wouldn’t really call it a sprint, it was more like a time trial to the line. I just went from the back and built and built and built. I was on the chevrons and it was pretty bumpy but I had time to get my hands up in the air so I can’t complain.”
The support didn’t go unnoticed either: “Cheers for the cheering, there were lots of people on the roads shouting my name and the support all the way around the course is crazy so it’s really nice. I just want to say thanks to everyone for the support and obviously for voting for me in the Most Aggressive Rider vote, as it was long hard day, there was a headwind all day and it was pretty tough.”
Stage Winner: Harry Tanfield
Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries General Classification Jersey: Harry Tanfield
Asda Points Jersey: Harry Tanfield (To be worn by Ali Slater)
Virgin Trains King of the Mountains Jersey: Michael Cuming
Dimension Data Digital Jersey (Most Active Rider): Harry Tanfield (To be worn by Thomas Baylis)