The cold, wet and windy conditions didn’t deter the huge, enthusiastic crowds who turned out in their thousands to cheer on the riders during the 182km first stage of Le Tour De Yorkshire from Doncaster to Selby.
With crowds waving blue and yellow flags, painted bicycles and land art in the fields and on the hills, the excitement was everywhere to see.
A decisive break went away after about 20km and then remarkably stayed away until the final 50 metres. This break of six riders were Joe Nally and Sean Flynn from the Great Britain team, Dan Bigham of Ribble Pro Cycling, Dutchman Jesper Asselman of Rompoot-Charles, Kevin Vermaerke of Hagens Bergman Axeon, James Fouche of Wiggins Le Col and our own Jacob Hennessy from Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes.
Unlike 2018, where the breakaway group gained a five minute gap and managed to stay away to the finish with Harry Tanfield of Canyon Eisberg taking the win, the gap this time was kept under two minutes due to the vigilance of Team Ineos and Dimension Data who were always keeping control on the front.
The first of two intermediate sprints came after 72km at Elloughton and was won by Jacob Hennessy, taking five points and gaining three bonus seconds.
The six riders were still away when they reached the only King of the Mountains climb of the day which went up Cote de Baggaby Hill.
The push to the summit was contested by Hennessy and Bigham, with Hennessy again crossing the line first.
The second (and final) intermediate sprint of the day came at Pocklington with Hennessy holding on to take the win. With his job done, Hennessy was so cold that he chose to take shelter back in the peloton rather than try to stay in the breakaway and contest the finishing sprint.
The race finally came back together in the last 50 metres, with the riders racing to the finish in Selby through torrential rain and Asselman just managing to hang on to cross the line first.
The seven Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes riders all finished safely (but very cold and wet), in the bunch.
As well as winning the KOM jersey and two intermediate sprints, Hennessy currently lies third in the General Classification, benefitting from bonus seconds gained from the sprints.
Post race interviews focused not on the riding or the tactics of the race but on either how cold and wet it was or how fantastic the crowds were.
Feedback from mechanic Lee Askew and photographer Hugh McManus in the team car was that they were kept busy all day by riders constantly going back to either leave kit that they had taken off when the sun came out or to retrieve items of clothing they wanted to put back on because the rain had re-started and they were cold.
Talking after the race, sprinter Hennessy, who could hardly take off his shoes and gloves because his hands were so cold, said…
“It was pretty hard, cold at the start, wet in the middle and very cold at the end.
Winning the King of the Mountains jersey, is quite ironic.
We were all racing for that jersey because it was the only jersey available today (15 points were awarded to the winner of the stage and only 10 points for the intermediate sprints), so I really wanted to get up that climb first.
After the climb and the final intermediate sprint that followed on shortly afterwards, I dropped off with about 30km to go because I was so cold that I had hit the limit and I wanted to make sure that I had some reserves left for the next 3 days.
If the breaks keep going on to win in Yorkshire, then I’ll have to aim to get in the break again tomorrow won’t I!”
Max Stedman, who spent all day in the bunch also said…
“The weather was grim. They said there were going to be showers but it was far worse than that, but the crowds were amazing as usual”
The riders will take on Stage 2 today starting in Barnsley and finishing in Bedale, good luck!
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman
Images – Hugh McManus