Determined to finish Le Tour de Yorkshire on a high after the disappointment of Stage 3, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes’ Andy Tennant, Tom Stewart and Max Stedman rode as a team unit from the start, making sure they were always within striking distance of the front of the peloton.
With over 3,000 metres of climbing from the 5 classified and numerous uncategorised climbs, the trio could be seen just behind the trains of the World Tour teams, keeping a close eye on what was happening at the front, but conserving energy for the expected charge that would evolve towards the back-end of the stage.
Even after the most challenging climbs of Cote de Park Rash (2.2km long at 10.5% after 67km) and Greenhow Hill (3.5km long at 8.1% after 128km), a large proportion of the peloton was still together, with Team Ineos limiting the breakaway group of 9 riders to a gap fluctuating around 2 minutes.
It was at the bottom of the last categorised climb, the Cote de Otley Chevin (1.4km long at 10.3% after 154km) when just 3 of the original breakaway group were left in front, that the race really exploded into action.
The thousands of enthusiastic spectators lining the climb were treated to the thrilling sight of Chris Froome (Ineos) leading the chase to shut down the gap.
With 20km to go, Tennant and Stewart’s selfless team support role was done as Stedman’s was just starting as he raced across the gap, managing to attach himself to the back of what was remaining of the lead group of around 30 riders which included last year’s Le Tour de Yorkshire winner Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and this year’s race leader Chris Lawless (Ineos).
In the closing kilometres Van Avermaet, Lawless and Eddie Dunbar (also Ineos) pulled a few seconds away from a chasing group of 4 which was slightly ahead of a further group of 19 riders including Stedman as he pushed on through to finish a commendable 16th position on the stage, beating Chris Froome, Owain Doull and Michal Golas of Team Ineos to the line and moving up 10 places in the GC to 25th.
Not far behind, Stewart finished in 38th on the stage and 39th on GC, with Tennant rolling in with Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) in 69th on the stage and 61st on GC.
This might not have been the result that the team had hoped for prior to the four day Tour, but it was a great recovery after the disappointment of Stage 3.
Reflecting on the result and on the team’s performance in Le Tour, Directeur Sportive Tim Elverson said:
“We had to pick ourselves up today after not such a good day yesterday.
We rode well for the whole race, and achieved a much better result with Max in 16th.
On the whole we had a great first 2 days and it could have been a great 4 days if not for a small mistake on Stage 3. It didn’t help that we lost two key riders after only 2 stages due to stomach bugs, which meant we had to adjust our plans slightly.
All-in-all a good race but we would have liked a better GC position”
“Stage 3 was a pretty big disappointment being just slightly out of position when the break went in the cross-winds and completely blew our GC chances, but I’m very happy to have been able to make up for it today and show what could have been GC-wise.
It was nice to be up there in the thick of it with some of the world’s best.
Maybe I could have got a slightly better result at the end, but we were keen to get in the break early on, so I spent a bit of energy there, which was to no avail unfortunately.”
Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes remain at the top of the Tour of Britain qualification standings, although the battle between five of the six competing teams has tightened up somewhat.
The team will be looking to put in a powerful performance at next Sunday’s National Road Series round, the Chestnut Homes Lincoln GP.
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman
Images (1,5) – TdY
Images (2,3,4) – Paul Stedman