The route, contenders, riders to watch and best of British at the second Tour de Yorkshire
Monument winners, Grand Tour champions, Olympic hopefuls and a generous smattering of local favourites will come together for the second Tour de Yorkshire, which starts on Friday (April 29).
Rolling out of Beverley, an undulating opening stage to Settle – with just one short, steep classified climb at Greenhow Hill to negotiate – should be setup for a bunch sprint, though the route contains enough hazards to potentially break the size of the group down.
Stage two follows a relatively flat route from Otley to Doncaster, with the heavy roads likely to pose more of a challenge than the three categorised climbs, before a punchy final from Middlesbrough to Scarborough – packed with short, steep climbs – is likely to decide the overall winner on stage three.
Team Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug rolls out as defending champion, with British champion Peter Kennaugh among his supporting cast.
Britain’s Adam Yates leads an Orica-GreenEDGE team also boasting Paris-Roubaix champion Mat Hayman, while Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) are among the other riders to watch.
So what should we expect from this year’s race, after an incident-packed inaugural event last time out? Read on for our comprehensive preview.
Three new start towns, and two new finishing locations mean the route is significantly different from last time out but the balance of the stages mean another unpredictable race is in the offing.
Stage one is 185km in length, departing from Beverley in East Riding and heading west towards the Lancashire border.
Greenhow Hill, a 2.8km ascent with an 8.6 per cent gradient is the only categorised climb of the day, though the finishing circuit does feature an unclassified rise to the intermediate sprint point at Giggleswick.
It should be a bunch sprint in Settle, but how big that bunch is will depend how hard the racing has been made in the latter half of the race.
Stage two, however, is one definitely favouring the fast men, thanks to a short and relatively flat ride from Otley to Doncaster.
The same route is being used for the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire earlier in the day, with world champion Lizzie Armitstead on the startline in her hometown and Emma Pooley returning to the Great Britain team as she makes a late bid for Olympic inclusion.
Two early ascent, at Harewood and East Rigton, and then a short rise to Conisbrough Castle, are the only categorised climbs on the 135km route, with Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) looking to add to his three sprint victories so far this season ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
While the sprinters will have their chance to shine on stages one and two, it will be the puncheurs who really come to the fore on stage three, with six climbs packed in between Middlesbrough and Scarborough.
The long 198km stage is flat for the first 60km but Sutton Bank, a 1.4km climb with an average gradient of 12 per cent and ramps closer to one in four, introduces the climbing with a nasty kick.
Blakey Ridge is the longest climb of the day – 4.8km at 4.5 per cent – before two more climbs averaging more than ten per cent in gradient, at Grosmont and Robin Hood’s Bay.
The heavy roads and short, steep climbs en-route to Scarborough dissected the peloton in last year’s inaugural edition, as Nordhaug claimed the blue leader’s jersey in the seaside town and held it to the finish.
And with Harwood Dale (1.3km at 7.4 per cent) and finally, within the last ten kilometres, the short, sharp ascent of Oliver’s Mount (0.8km at 6.4 per cent) there will be plenty of opportunity for riders to escape.
Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE), Steven Kruisjwijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jurgen van den Broeck (Katusha) are among the leading climbers on the provisional startlist, alongside last year’s winner Nordhaug and British champion Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky).
Lars-Petter Nordhuag (Team Sky)
The short, steep climbs and heavy roads of Yorkshire make this an unpredictable race and picking a winner tough.
Lars-Petter Nordhaug proved as much last year, escaping late on the opening stage in a strong five-man move and, with Team Sky boasting strength in numbers, taking the stage win and holding the jersey through to the end.
Coach Luke Roberts said Barguil will look to test himself on the harder stages, and the final stage is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
If he can continue his form over the hills at the Ardennes Classics, Barguil should feature at the sharp end of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Britain’s Adam Yates leads a strong Orica-GreenEDGE team who are set up to potentially dominate the three-day race from start to finish.
The 23-year-old has had a relatively quiet start to the season, but would have been a strong contender for the Tirreno-Adriatico white jersey – having finished second in the youth classification – had the mountainous Queen Stage not been cancelled because of bad weather.
But with Caleb Ewan and Luka Mezgec leading the hunt for sprint stage wins, and Yates – winner of the Clasica San Sebastian last year – a likely contender on stage three, the Australian team have plenty of options.
Indeed, if the final stage proves to be less decisive than expected it could come down to bonus seconds instead, in which case if the sprinters stay in the front group they have every chance of being in contention.
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Steven Kruijswijk was one of the riders caught out by the first stage at last year’s Tour de Yorkshire but gave a glimpse of what might have been when he finished ninth on the final stage.
He was racing the Tour de Yorkshire to build form for the Giro d’Italia, where his performance on the Mortirolo and strong final week earned him seventh place overall.
Kruijswijik then returned to British shores and finished seventh at the Tour of Britain, so will be a contender for at least a top-ten place this time out.
Again, building form for the Giro d’Italia will be Kruijswijk’s top priority – as is the case with several of the WorldTour riders – but victory is definitely not beyond him.
Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie)
Veteran Frenchman Thomas Voeckler did what he does best at last year’s race, igniting the race with an attack on the first stage and earning third place overall for his troubles.
Voeckler ended a two-and-a-half year search for a race win when he won the opening stage of the Tour Cycliste International La Provene in February and held on for the overall win, and has enjoyed a strong season to date.
Fourth at Pays de la Loire in his most recent stage race, and in the break on the Queen Stage of the Criterium International before that, the 36-year-old has been in resurgent form.
And a race like the Tour de Yorkshire should suit him well, with plenty of opportunity to attack even before the final stage.
Voeckler’s love of the breakaway means he may well be out of contention overall before he bolts up the road on stage three, but you can expect something from the Frenchman – after all, he doesn’t know how to race any differently.
Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data)
A stage winner at both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country, Steve Cummings is another experienced rider in top form.
He followed those wins up with a strong solo breakaway at La Fleche Wallonne and then a top-20 finish at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and if his form’s still there you can expect to see more from the Wirral-born ace at the Tour de Yorkshire.
The 35-year-old narrowly missed out on a top-ten spot last year, finishing three seconds behind Huub Duijn and fellow Brit Richard Handley in 11th place.
But his penchant for attacking, particularly in the final few kilometres of the race, means he will be a dangerous rider if he’s in the front group as the peloton approaches Scarborough on stage three.
Since joining Dimension Data (then MTN-Qhubeka) last year, Cummings has enjoyed a resurgence in form for what is likely to be the final chapter of his career and will be among the Brits looking to impress on home soil.
Riders to watch
As with any race like the Tour de Yorkshire, an unpredictable parcours means picking a winner can be a thankless task and there are a host of other riders well worth keeping an eye on.
Jurgen van den Broeck (Katusha) has made a quiet start to life with the Russian team, but the 33-year-old will be hoping to step things up as he builds form for the Tour de France.
BMC Racing boasts a strong team, including Rohan Dennis and last year’s stage three winner Ben Hermans.
Roompot-Oranje Peloton are yet to confirm their line-up, but Pieter Weening showed plenty of attacking intent at the Tour of Catalunya to merit keeping a close eye on.
And then, of course, are the Brits looking to impress on home soil…
Best (of the rest) of British
The best British finisher in last year’s race, Erick Rowsell (Madison-Genesis) missed the Tour of Britain due to injury, costing him a chance to improve on his Yorkshire performance.
But after his eighth place last year, Rowsell has the chance to prove his worth again this time out alongside team-mate Tom Stewart who has previous impressed at the Tour of Britain and last year’s Tour de Yorkshire.
Richard Handley (ONE Pro Cycling) was also in the top ten last time out, and having left JLT Condor in the winter is part of a strong ONE Pro line-up for this year’s race.
Britain’s only UCI ProContinental team also boasts Danish Tro-Bro Leon winner Martin Mortensen and runner-up Pete Williams, last year’s Tour of Britain King of the Mountains.
JLT-Condor have also already tasted UCI Europe Tour success this season, after Conor Dunne won last weekend’s Rutland Melton Classic, with Chris Lawless third in that race.
Lawless also won a stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic at the start of the year, while Steve Lampier was fifth overall in that race and 12th at the Herald Sun Tour – won by Chris Froome.
Veteran Yorkshireman Russell Downing leads the sprinting charge for John Herety’s team meanwhile, fresh from a stage win and third place overall at the Tour du Loir.
NFTO will field an all-British line-up, including former Team Sky man Josh Edmondson, who won last year’s Ronde de l’Oise, was second at the An Post Ras and sixth at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan.
Bradley Wiggins races for his eponymous team, though for him and Tour of Britain third-place finisher Owain Doull – who pulled out of the Tour of Croatia with a knee injury – the aim will be more clocking road miles ahead of the Olympics than results.
Team-mate Scott Davies, ninth in Croatia and 12th in last year’s Tour de Yorkshire, has no such restrictions, however, as he bids to further his fledgling career.
A multi-national Raleigh-GAC team, for whom Spanish track champion Sebastian Mora finished 12th at the Tour de Normandie, and the Great Britain national team made up of under-23 riders complete the British interest.
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