Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) won stage four of the Tour de Yorkshire as Chris Lawless claimed the overall victory for a first stage race win for Team Ineos.
The Brit followed Van Avermaet’s wheel to the line to protect his six second lead over the Belgian, as they finished in a group of three alongside Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos).
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The Irishman proved a vital lieutenant in the final, holding off a late charge from Alexander Kamp (Riwal Readynez), who was on the same time as Lawless at the start of the day.
Chris Froome (Team Ineos) split the race up the final climb of the day at Otley Chevin, taking team-mate Dunbar and Van Avermaet with him.
Dunbar then launched from this group, catching the remnants of the day’s breakaway, before Van Avermaet attacked the bunch with 5km remaining, leaving everyone behind apart from Lawless, who managed to get onto his wheel.
Dunbar, Lawless and Van Avermaet then worked together into the finish in Leeds, holding off chase groups behind from getting back on, with the Olympic champion Van Avermaet taking the stage win and Lawless winning the overall victory by two seconds from the Belgian. Dunbar’s heroics also moved the Irishman up to third place, 11 seconds behind his team-mate.
How it happened
The fifth and final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire was a 175km course punctuated by steep and short climbs, with the final two ascents poised to potentially animate the GC contest, with a number of riders still in the hunt for the overall classification.
The day’s breakaway consisted of nine riders: Pierre Rolland (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels), Jonathan Hivert (Total Direct Energie), Jake Scott (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling), Johnny McEvoy (Madison Genesis), Joey Walker (Madison Genesis), Arnaud Courteille (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels), Julen Irizar (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias), Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Ethan Hayter (Great Britain). They had gained a three minute advantage after 60km of racing, after which the gap slowly started to decrease.
At the Cote de Park Rash, the breakaway had a gap of 2-25, when Jake Scott hit out early to try and claim the king of the mountains points, but made his effort too soon as Arnaud Courteille went around him to reach the summit first.
60km later, Riwal Readynez came to the front of the peloton and hit the gas up Greenhow Hill, looking to put pressure on the race leader Chris Lawless (Team Ineos) who sat on the same time as their man Alexander Kamp, the Dane beating the Brit in the sprint finish on stage four.
This effort reduced the breakaway’s advantage to 1-12, and put a number of riders in the peloton into difficulty, with Ian Stannard (Team Ineos) dropped and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Jacob Scott (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) also starting to lose touch, the latter’s KOM challenge now over.
Back at the front of the race on Greenhow Hill, three members of the breakaway broke free, the French climbers Lafay, Hivert and Courteille distancing the rest of the group. Courteille went over the top first, winning the king of the mountains competition regardless of the result on the last climb of the race up to Otley Chevin.
With 45km to go, remnants of the breakaway began to be swept up, with another 15km elapsing before Pierre Rolland and Ethan Hayter were also caught. Now the race was between the three French leaders and the rest of the peloton, with CCC, Team Ineos and Riwal Readynez taking up chasing responsibilities with the gap at 1-27.
Courteille hit out alone on the Otley Chevin, leaving behind Lafay and Hivert, with the gap over the peloton down to 27 seconds.
Chris Froome then attacked the peloton on this climb with 21km remaining, splitting the bunch and taking a few riders with him, including Greg Van Avermaet and Eddie Dunbar.
Dunbar then launched from the Chris Froome group, with the peloton containing race leader Chris Lawless reeling the group back in.
Dunbar soon caught Lafay and Hivert, dragging them back up to Courteille, the four-man group holding a 30 second advantage over the bunch.
The gap had closed to 20 seconds with CCC chasing as Dunbar continued to drive the leading group towards the finish line in Leeds.
Greg Van Avermaet attacked the bunch with just over 5km to go, with Lawless straight onto his wheel and Froome also trying to get over. Dunbar had dropped the rest of the leading group as Van Avermaet and Lawless quickly caught up to him.
The leading group of three were being chased down by a group containing Alexander Kamp, with the race fracturing behind.
Dunbar pushed on for Lawless, with Van Avermaet biding his time sitting in the wheel as the Kamp group started coming up behind.
With a kilometre to go, Dunbar held the chase group at bay as Greg Van Avermaet led out the sprint with Lawless in his wheel, the Olympic champion taking the stage win and Lawless winning the overall classification.
Tour de Yorkshire 2019 stage four: Halifax to Leeds (175km)
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team, in 4-40-03
2. Chris Lawless (GBr) Team Ineos, at same time
3. Eddie Dunbar (Ire) Team Ineos, at 2 seconds
4. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data, at 9s
5. Jams Shaw (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
6. Matthew Holmes (GBr) Madison Genesis
7. Alexander Kamp (Den) Riwal Readynez, all at same time
8. Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Team Wiggins, at 12s
9. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Scott Thwaites (GBr) Vitus Pro Cycling, all at same time
General classification after stage four:
1. Chris Lawless (GBr) Team Ineos, in 15-18-12
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC, at 2 seconds
3. Eddie Dunbar (Ire) Team Ineos, at 11s
4. Alexander Kamp (Den) Riwal Readynez, at 15s
5. James Shaw (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, at 25s
6. Matthew Holmes (GBr) Madison Genesis
7. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data, all at same time
8. Scott Thwaites (GBr) Vitus Pro Cycling, at 28s
9. Connor Swift (GBr) Madison Genesis
10. Nick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Charles, all at same time