Yorkshireman's power brings success after nail biting final

In a huge surprise, Harry Tanfield took advantage of a lack of cohesion from the peloton to become the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire on stage one of the 2018 race.

Tanfield used his huge power to surge past his remaining breakaway companions, finishing with time to sit up and enjoy the victory ahead of Alistair Slater (JLT-Condor) and Mike Cuming (Madison-Genesis) in second and third place respectively.

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The win gives the 23-year-old Canyon-Eisberg rider, Tanfield, the leader’s blue jersey with three seconds lead from Slater.

With the gap steady at around 30 seconds in the final five kilometres, a breakaway victory had been in the balance, but the five riders maintained their collective composure, only finessing as they entered the closing two kilometres.

Indeed, it was Tanfield who began the games, dropping off the back off the group in an effort to miss a turn. Though others did not allow that to happen, as the peloton finally closed in he found himself in the perfect place to wind up his huge gear, sprinting in the saddle before raising his arms in success.

How it happened

A tailwind on the wide roads out of Beverley ensured a frantic start, the domestic and Pro-Continental teams desperately trying to form alliances and get up the road.

After 10km a group of six managed to build a gap of 20s and while some in the peloton were unhappy, this was the day’s break.

Eventually, with 30km of the 182km stage to Doncaster behind them, the six riders had established a lead of over five minutes.

Tanfield, Slater and Cuming were joined by Tom Baylis (One Pro Cycling), Axel Journiaux (Direct Energie) and Emerson Oronte (Rally), the sextet working flawlessly to maintain their advantage. Behind, as the race turned away from the North Sea coast, Sunweb and Vital Concept, riding for Bryan Coquard, came to the front.

Now battling a decent headwind, the breakaway struggled to maintain their advantage, and it finally settled at around 4-30, with Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data helping out behind.

Cuming booked his place with Tanfield on the Doncaster podium, winning an excellent scrap with Baylis for the stage’s only classified climb at the Côte de Baggaby Hill, thus ensuring he would wear the mountains jersey on Friday’s second stage. Immediately afterwards Tanfield himself powered off the front to win the first intermediate sprint at Pocklington, with 79km remaining.

Indeed, after bagging the points and attendant three bonus seconds, it appeared the Yorkshireman was contemplating battling on alone, though discretion proved the better part of valour, and he rejoined his fellow escapees.

With all the day’s hills behind them, the six-man break ploughed on, their lead being slowly eroded as the headwind took its toll. When Slater won the second intermediate sprint at Howden, the breakaway led the bunch by 3-12.

With 37km to go, and in an effort to enliven the race in cross winds on the flat, open landscape, Sunweb suddenly upped the pace, their efforts assisted by Vital Concept. While the work was in vain, the brief period of action ate further into the breakaway’s lead, the gap dropping below two minutes and the chances of a bunch sprint increased.

However, even when Frenchman Journiaux was unable to stay with the pace, the break proved more stubborn than the bunch had anticipated, and sensing the impending upset, more teams were forced to come to the front, Dimension Data adding personnel and Sky committing two of their six man team.

As the race entered its final 10km the breakaway were still more than one minute ahead, and with Vital Concept playing a cagey and ultimately fruitless game for their leader Coquard, the stage was set for a remarkable final.

Tanfield may well struggle to keep his leader’s jersey after tomorrow’s stage, the first summit finish in the race’s four year history. The 149km race starts in Barnsley, finishing 149km later at the top of the famous Cow and Calf climb just outside Ilkley.

Results

Tour de Yorkshire 2018, stage one: Beverley – Doncaster (182km)
1. Harry Tanfield (GBr) Canyon-Eisberg in 4-08-12
2. Alistair Slater (GBr) JLT-Condor
3. Mike Cuming (GBr) Madison-Genesis
4. Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally all at same time
5. Tom Baylis (GBr) One Pro at .05
6. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept
8. Emils Liepins (Lat) One Pro
9. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally
10. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana all at same time

General classification after stage one
1. Harry Tanfield (GBr) Canyon-Eisberg in 4-07-58
2. Alistair Slater (GBr) JLT-Condor, at 03s
3. Mike Cuming (GBr) Madison-Genesis, at 10s
4. Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally, at 14s
5. Tom Baylis (GBr) One Pro, at same time
6. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb, at 19s
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept
8. Emils Liepins (Lat) One Pro
9. Colin Joyce (USA) Rally
10. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana, all at same time