British Cycling’s young team of riders took stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire by the scruff of the neck, placing two riders in the break that produced the days winner. Although the British team, the only national squad in the race, came away empty handed, coach Ben Greenwood was pleased with their performance.
“The aim was to ride for Ethan [Hayter] in the sprint and put a rider in the break.” Greenwood said. “Joe [Nally] has been saying for a few weeks he wanted to get in the break, but we didn’t expect two! After last year we were talking about the break sticking [today]. There’s only four WorldTour teams and we couldn’t see many sprinter teams who had an interest in bringing it back.”
“With 20km to go I told Jo it’s on. It was wet, the bunch was cold and you could see no one fancied it.”
While Jesper Asselman of Roompot opened his sprint early to gain a few metres and just hold off the rapidly closing bunch to win, Nally was swamped in the dying metres to finish 12th. His team-mate Sean Flynn had ‘blown’ at around 130km and would eventually finish over 10 minutes behind.
“Sean is a first year [senior] mountain biker,” Greenwood explained. “Until he did a race for us a few weeks ago he’d not ridden over 130km. For him this is a long way. He hit that mark today and blew his doors off.”
“We’ve got four riders doing this level of race for the first tie. Charley [Calvert] is a first year senior, as is Sean. Will is a first year senior and Ben Turner is a second year cross rider doing his first road race of the season. For them it’s a big step up.”
“Today was their best chance to get in the break. Stage three being so short will be a hard break to get in to, and the last day it will be a really strong break of strong riders. And they’ll get more tired than the WorldTour riders as the race goes on. We’re not doing it for sponsors like the Pro Conti teams just for them to show their name and faces. We’ll try again tomorrow.”
Coaches Greenwood and Matt Brammeier brought a young team to Yorkshire with their strongest riders currently racing on the continent. “A team raced in Germany yesterday in the U23 race in Frankfurt, and we’ve got an U23 Nations Cup in France on Saturday.
“The Nations Cups are the way we qualify for the world champs and being in Harrogate this year we want a full team. We got fourth in Ghent-Wevelgem, third in Flanders with Jake Stewart so we’ve got good points already but we want six riders.”
Best placed on the day was Ethan Hayter, although the team pursuit rider was in trouble earlier in the race.
“We came round a corner and Ethan was on the floor,” added Greenwood.
“There was no mention on the radio. He said, ‘my bikes’ broken, my shifters are broken, and my cleats moved.’ Matt [Brammeier] was up the road with all the spare bikes on the roof so Ethan had to start riding with one foot clipped in. We stayed with him until we found Matt by which time we were a long way back.”
Hayter battled his way back to the bunch to finish sixth on the stage, two places ahead of Mark Cavendish in the sprint.