French rider Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) won an enthralling, exciting final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire on Sunday. After attacking fellow escapee Max Steadman (Canyon-Eisberg) on the approach to third of the day’s six climbs, the 31 year-old rode solo for the final 115km to bag a magnificent victory.
Behind, BMC rode a tactical masterpiece, placing Greg Van Avermaet second at the end of the 189.5km stage allowing him to take overall victory in the four day race. Eduard Prades (Euskadi-Murias) took an impressive second place on general classification, while last year’s victor Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) placed third.
British JLT-Condor rider Ian Bibby was pipped to the line by Van Avermaet and finished third on the day.
In what was a fabulously complex race all was up for grabs, with Rossetto cresting the final four classified climbs of the day in first place, thus securing the King of the Mountains jersey to add to his stage win.
How it happened
After an frantic opening few kilometres, a large break went up the road early in the stage between Halifax and Leeds. The 15 riders contained some who could challenge for the overall win, and behind them the Astana team of race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen split under pressure of the high pace, putting the Dane’s overall lead in peril.
Meanwhile, between the opening two classified climbs, Stedman and eventual winner Rossetto (Cofidis) escaped the leading group and, with just 40km behind them, led the peloton by more than four minutes.
Taking maximum points on the second and third of the day’s six classified climbs, it appeared Stedman was attempting to claim the King of the Mountains jersey Mike Cuming (Madison-Genesis) had worn since stage one. However, as the pair tackled an unclassified ramp just before the day’s most challenging climb, Park Rash, the Briton was dropped by his French companion.
At an average gradient of 10.5 per cent Park Rash caused a rearranging of the chase group, with Stedman settling in, taking the place of others who were dropped.
In that group BMC’s Brent Bookwalter and Belgian Steff Cras (Katusha-Alpecin) began the day just 27 seconds behind Cort Nielsen, and were consequently the major threat to the general classification.
As the race settled, Bookwalter and Cras were joined in that chase group by Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Connor Swift (Madison-Genesis), Owain Doull (Sky), Mark Christian (Aqua Blue), Jai Hindley (Sunweb), Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept), Pim Ligthart (Roompot-Nederlandse Lotterij), Tom Baylis (One Pro), Kyle Murphy (Rally) Max Stedman (Canyon Ersberg), Tom Pidcock (GB), Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi-Murias) and Scott Davies (Dimension Data).
Of those, Bravo and Davies had team mates within 15 seconds of Cort Nielsen’s overall lead, so with the group’s lead on the peloton at over four minutes, Euskadi-Murias and Dimension Data belatedly sent riders to help Astana’s chase.
Meanwhile, at the front Rossetto worked hard to maintain a lead which had settled at about four minutes on the chasing group and approximately double that on the peloton.
Having turned into a headwind around half way through the day, it was only with 65km left that the Frenchman’s lead began to drop, possibly due to attacks coming from the group as first Ligthart, then Chavanel made ultimately fruitless digs. However, those attacks dislodged Stedman from the group, ensuring Rossetto would win the mountains classification.
As the gap between the bunch and the chasing group began to drop, attacks on the penultimate climb, the Côte de Greenhow Hill, forced a further selection, Katusha-Alpecin’s Robert Kiserlovski making the first move despite having Cras in the group ahead. In the resulting group BMC had four riders, giving Van Avermaet a numerical and tactical advantage.
These moves caused uncertainty among the chasers, allowing Rossetto to take a lead of three minutes onto the day’s final climb, the Côte de Otley Chevin, but with Bookwalter still ahead it was Dimension Data who were forced to work to make the catch with 25km to go.
As the remains of the peloton made it onto the Otley climb, attacks first from last year’s winner Pauwels, then Aqua Blue’s Eddie Dunbar finally distanced race leader Cort Nielsen, isolated after Astana’s earlier work.
From there group of around fifteen riders, including four from BMC remained to contest the final 20km.
The general classification success is Olympic champion Van Avemmaet’s second win of the season, the Belgian having suffered bad luck and less than optimal form through the spring classics he had dominated in 2017.
Tour de Yorkshire Stage four – Halifax to Leeds
1. Stephane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, in 4-53-22
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, at 34 secs
3. Ian Bibby (GBr) JLT-Condor
4. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue
5. Eduard Prades (Esp) Euskadi-Murias
6. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
7. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie
8. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb, all at same time
Tour de Yorkshire final general classification
1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing in 16-38-00
2. Eduard Prades (Esp) Euskadi-Murias at 9 secs
3. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data at 14 secs
4. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin at 19 secs
5. Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb at same time
6. Ian Bibby (GBr) JLT-Condor at 23 secs
7. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis at 25 secs
8. Eddie Dunbar (Ire) Aqua Blue at 27 secs
9. Patrick Bevin (Aus) BMC at 37 secs
10. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie at 39 secs