The Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team started Stage 2 of the Tour the Yorkshire in a commendable position after an awesome ride from Jacob Hennessey on Stage 1 from Doncaster to Selby where he won the King of the Mountains red jersey and finished first in the two intermediate sprints.
Hennessy lay in 3rd in place the General Classification standings, five seconds behind the leader Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) who won Stage 1.
Stage 2 was a short 132km, heading north from Barnsley to Bedale including one climb at Cote de Lindley and two intermediate sprints at Pontefract and Harrogate.
The route included a loop around Harrogate that will serve as the finishing circuit for the 2019 UCI Road World Championships to be held in Yorkshire during the last week of September.
With Rory Townsend starting on the front line of ‘the grid’, alongside the jersey wearers, it looked pretty clear that he was going to try and get into the breakaway. However, his initial attempts to create a break that would stick were brought back by the peloton.
It was Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes’ Tom Stewart who got into a four man break after 7km, along with Fabien Grellier of Total Direct Energie, Jacob Scott of Swift Carbon Pro Cycling and Chris McGlinchey of Vitus Pro Cycling and the time gap soon rose to over one minute as the peloton settled in behind.
After 20km of racing, the four riders contested the first intermediate sprint at Pontefract which Stewart won.
The quartet were joined shortly afterwards by Rob Scott and James Fouché of Wiggins Le Col and with just over 30km completed, the breakaway including Stewart had a 2 minute and 54 second gap on the peloton.
The only KOM of the day was hotly contested but won by Wiggins Le Col’s Fouche with Stewart taking 2nd place. This put Fouche on equal points with Hennessy and meant that the wearer of the KOM jersey at the end of the race would be the rider who finished highest on the current stage.
While the peloton was gradually pulling back the gap, the six riders were around a minute ahead for the second intermediate sprint in Harrogate, which was won Jacob Scott, with Stewart taking 3rd to gain a one second time bonus on top of the three seconds he had acquired by winning the first sprint.
With 21km to go, the gap had been closed to 23 seconds but Stewart was still battling to stay away, finally succumbing to the relentless chase of the peloton with just 4km of the race left.
Reflecting on the day’s events, Stewart said…
“I was trying to watch the front of the race and I had a feeling that it might be raced full gas all day.
I was right at the front, part of the line blocking the road and I thought, it’s right there, l’ll go in it and see.
I got in the break quite easily and it was a case of ticking off the 2 sprints and the KOM.
It was a real pleasure to be out at the front today, with so many friends and family on the side of the road cheering me on.”
In the meantime, the rest of the team had spent the race within the peloton and as they reached the last few km, Andy Tennant took his position at the head of the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes lead-out train.
When a heavy rain shower broke out with 3km to go, the peloton instantly became disorganised and Tennant found himself in the leading group but without the team’s sprinters behind him.
Not wanting to lose the opportunity, he ‘surfed’ behind any rider he could, taking a magnificent 4th place across the line, closely followed by the rest of the team.
Speaking after the race, Rory Townsend commented…
“It was relatively relaxed in the peloton, we were sitting back in the bunch, waiting for the finale and when it came down to it, it really kicked off.
It was an extremely fast run-in and unfortunately me, Jacob Hennessy and Rob McCarthy were caught up in the melee when the rain came down.
In that situation Tennant is world class, he is so good at surfing the wheels at high speed and he came out with a really good result which is great”
Andy Tennant, reflecting on his result said…
“I was meant to be leading out Hennessy but I lost him when it started raining and I thought, I’m not going to find him now with 3 km to go, so I just tried to get myself up there as best I could.
I’m pretty chuffed, it’s the best result I’ve had in a race of this level.
I can’t really recall whose wheels I was following, I was just surfing and bouncing around, but when it started tipping it down I genuinely can’t remember what happened!”
With Hennessy finishing in 34th position and Fouché 82nd, Hennessy retained ownership of the red KOM red jersey for another day.
Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes also has three riders in the top 12 on General Classification, courtesy of Hennessy in 5th at 5 seconds, Stewart in 9th at 7 seconds and Tennant in 12th at 11 seconds.
Stage three will start in Bridlington and finish in Scarborough covering a total distance of 135km. Good luck!
Written by Paul and Marina Stedman
Images – Hugh McManus