Tour de Yorkshire 2019 Stage Four Preview
In many ways Stage Four of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire needs no real introduction as a lot of this 175km stage was ridden during the final stage of the 2018 edition of the race. However, as the parcours is so good, it seems only right to give it the billing it deserves.
Like 2018, the stage begins in The Piece Hall, one of Yorkshire’s must stunning feats of architecture. Dating back to 1779, this Grade I listed structure was originally built to support the trading of ‘pieces’ of cloth, but fast forward to present day and it represents the most perfect amphitheatre for a bike race to start in.
In a move away from the previous edition, the race heads north out of Halifax, instead of through Hebden Bridge with the flag being dropped on the A629. Haworth’s cobbled high street will yet again feature, this time uncategorised, and will no doubt provide even more iconic photos. The first categorised climb is one that will be familiar to the peloton, the nasty Côte de Goose Eye. This 1.5km climb has an average gradient of 10% but the early ramps here surpass 20% in places and this will no doubt prove an early test after 3 tough days in the saddle. The day’s second categorised climb comes as we enter the Yorkshire Dales, with the Côte de Barden Moor – a picturesque climb which although only 1km long, still has an average of nearly 10% too.
The stage then rolls through some of the Dales’ most picture-perfect landmarks and villages such as Bolton Abbey, Barden Tower and Burnsall before precious seconds in the GC standings are up for grabs in the first intermediate sprint at Kilnsey.
Then comes one of Yorkshire’s most feared climbs, the Côte de Park Rash. Set amongst stunning scenery, this is one of the hardest and most iconic climbs in the county. With an average gradient of 10.5% (reaching a leg-burningly brutal 25% at points) over 2.2km it’s easy to see why this climb is stamped in the folklore of Yorkshire cycling.
Once Park Rash has been crested, the road evens out a little as famous Dales towns & villages like Middleham and Masham are passed, with the first rider through the latter winning his height in Black Sheep beer from the town’s famous brewery. After exiting here, the race heads into Nidderdale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Those already out of contention might choose to take in some of the views here, but the GC battle is sure to heat up as the peloton hits Pateley Bridge, home to the world’s oldest sweet shop. Perhaps a few Jelly Babies should be grabbed here as just after this village comes the Côte de Greenhow Hill – at 3.3km, it is our longest climb of 2019 and is the third time this climb has featured in the race’s history.
The race then drops into Otley before things ramp up with the final climb of the day, the Côte de Otley Chevin. It was on this climb last year that the Yorkshire terrain proved too much for then GC leader Magnus Cort so this climb come prove decisive again in 2019. At 1.4km long and with a 10.3% gradient, it is the perfect springboard for a late attack but could also prove to be a real dagger blow to title hopes for those with weary legs.
From here, the race heads directly to Leeds, with the final intermediate sprint of the race thrown in for additional spice in Tinshill. Then the race will reach another rip-roaring conclusion on The Headrow where, once again, the finish line will be on the exact same spot as where the Tour de France departed from back in 2014.
Trying to predict what will happen with this iconic stage is like herding cats. Like last year, you wouldn’t rule out a one-day specialist like Greg van Avermaet from cycling away with the overall win as it certainly suits a Classics man. Perhaps, unlike last year, the first person to cross the line will be crowned the 2019 champion; or maybe we will see another remarkable one man show a la Stephané Rossetto. Whatever the outcome, whoever wins on the Headrow will have etched their name into the legend of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Stage Four of the Tour de Yorkshire takes place on the 5th May 2019. You can view the full map of this stage in detail here.