After the successes of the first 2 stages, the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team faced some unexpected challenges before Stage 3 of Le Tour de Yorkshire had even started, when both Rory Townsend and Dan Pearson were taken ill over night and were unable to ride.
However, hopes were still high for the team when lining up for the 132km stage which started on the sea front in Bridlington with Jacob Hennessy wearing the KOM red jersey and sitting in 5th place in the General Classification, closely followed by Tom Stewart in 9th after his long ride in the break on Stage 2, and Andy Tennant in 12th.
With 6.9km of climbing over five classified climbs, the stage was not expected to repeat the ‘bunch sprint’ finishes of Stages 1 and 2.
Even though they were lacking key team members who would have expected to go in a break or challenge for a GC position, the team tried hard to watch all the moves and were well positioned during the first half of the race.
Despite the relentless weather, with perishing northerly head-winds and heavy rain showers, they tracked the leaders until over the mid-point distance.
However, as the race hit the most northerly point of the day and turned in a westerly direction, the peloton was ravaged by cross-winds.
At this point, as often seen in the Belgian and Dutch classics, the WorldTour teams, Ineos and CCC put the metaphorical hammer down, splitting the peloton into at least 3 echelons.
Max Stedman and Tom Stewart were left to chase in a much smaller 2nd group with the rest of the team in the 3rd group or beyond. With under 50km to go, the split was decisive and the pressure was on Stedman and Stewart to focus on limiting their time losses.
While over 30 riders had made the initial lead echelon, only 21 contested the finishing sprint along the Scarborough sea-front, with the rest of the riders finishing in smaller groups.
Making the best of his position, Stedman sprinted in to finish 2nd in a group of 19 riders, taking 30th position overall, 2 minutes 54 seconds behind the winner. Stewart followed in 50th place at 4:03 with Tennant, Hennessy and McCarthy all finishing safely but no longer in GC contention.
Obviously disappointed, the team will have to re-group and set new goals for Stage 4 which will unfold during the race.
A sign of a great team is how they bounce back from adversity so we will all be watching to see what happens in the even more hilly Stage 4.
At least the weather is forecast to be better – still cold, but dry with only a gentle breeze!
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman
Images (1, 3) – Hugh McManus
Image (2) – Paul Stedman
Image (4) – SWpix.com