By Nigel Wynn
The race's first summit finish was a great addition
Yorkshire may lack high mountains, but it boasts a wealth of gruelling climbs worthy of testing the legs of the world's best professional cyclists. The case was proven in this year's Tour de Yorkshire (May 3-6), with the race's first ever summit finish included on stage two on the Cow and Calf, Ilkley.
Fans were treated the the sight of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), last year's winner Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and eventual stage winner Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) battling up the eye-watering final gradient in a slow-motion sprint battle in the men's race.
As was a feature of the entire race, the huge crowds packed the sides of the road to watch the action unfold in a sort-out of the general classification, where Olympic champion Van Avermaet laid the groundwork for his eventual overall victory.
And the final stage on Sunday – touted as one of the toughest routes for any bike race ever held in the UK – provided a fitting finale for the men's race.
In the women's race, Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) tackled the Cow and Calf with a strong solo effort to seal the overall win, which provided a great finale to the race.
It's hard to quibble with the route of this year's Tour de Yorkshire.
British riders didn't disappoint against the WorldTour opposition
One of the fascinations among British cycling fans is being able to compare 'home' riders with their WorldTour counterparts. The Tour de Yorkshire provides a rare opportunity for the likes of Madison Genesis, One Pro Cycling, JLT Condor and Canyon Eisberg to pit their riders against the highly-paid opposition.
And they did not disappoint. The opening stage of the men's race provided a surprise, as the break evaded a chase by the peloton to allow Harry Tanfield (Canyon-Eisberg), Alistair Slater (JLT-Condor) and Mike Cuming (Madison-Genesis) to fight it out for the stage win and early race lead.
Tanfield came out on top – and who would have predicted that the 23-year-old would have finished ahead of the likes of Bryan Coquard or Mark Cavendish?
Most impressive British performance, however, goes to Ian Bibby (JLT Condor), who finished in third just behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) on the final, tough stage to claim sixth place overall.
Dani Rowe, riding for the Great Britain composite team, put in one of her strongest rides on the road to finish as runner-up behind Megan Guarnier in the women's race, only 17 seconds adrift.
There's still work to be done regarding road safety
Sadly, one of the aspect of the 2018 TdY that gained widespread attention relate to road safety incidents. Most worrying were those where riders found themselves in open traffic – where the roads were re-opened to the public before all of the riders had travelled through.
The worst of these involved race leader Harry Tanfield and Canyon-Eiseberg team-mate Alex Paton riding through traffic on stage two of the race, with Paton hitting a car head-on and was subsequently taken to hospital. Canyon-Eiseberg's team manager lodged a complaint with race organiser ASO, and reportedly received an apology.
An Astana team car very nearly hit a race marshal on stage four, as it hit a bollard on the central reservation. Astana subsequently issued an apology.
There were also other incidences of riders either being sent the wrong way by a race official or missing signage, and taking the wrong road – as happened on stage two.
In the women's race, national hill-climb champion Joscelin Lowden abandoned stage one after an incident that involved a race security motorbike. She was later diagnosed with a fractured collarbone.
In total, that is a wide range of incidents with different causes and concerns. Organisers need to address the issues of safety on Yorkshire's roads both for the 2019 edition of the race and the forthcoming World Championships.
Women's race all the better for an extra day
Both the men's and women's races benefitted from an extra day in 2018, but it was the women's race that changed dramatically, going from a single day event to two days.
The way in which the TdY has integrated the women's and men's race together was neat. The two events shared broadly the same routes on stages one and two, including the same start/finish locations, with the women's race taking place in the morning and men in the afternoon.
That meant that the women's race concluded with the summit finish on the Cow and Calf on Friday, providing a spectacular finale to two days of first-class racing.
Organiser ASO has hit a great formula for the Women's Tour de Yorkshire – one that it would do well to replicate for La Course by Le Tour de France, which has yet to settle on a successful format.
2019 World Champs should be fantastic
The roads of Yorkshire will host the 2019 UCI Road Cycling World Championships, and it looks like whoever is tasked with working out the road race and time trial routes is going to be spoilt for choice.
This year's Tour de Yorkshire, just like the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ before it, perfectly showcased everything that the county has to offer for such a prestigious event, and it helped that the weather could not have been better.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity has already said that the 2019 Worlds racing will take in the 'four corners of Yorkshire', with Harrogate acting as the centrepiece.
Also guaranteed is the huge amount of support that the event will attract, with vast numbers of spectators expected and with support coming from local, regional and national authorities.
And now there's talk that the Vuelta a España could also use Yorkshire to host its opening stages in the next few years.
Now, if only they can guarantee the good weather...
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