Harrogate Crowds turned out to watch a pulsating sprint finish in Harrogate which saw Nacer Bouhanni emerge triumphant on stage two.
The peloton was treated to an equally warm welcome at the start line in Tadcaster – just as the world’s best female riders had been at the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire earlier in the day – with 405 schoolchildren lining Tadcaster Bridge to signify the number of days they had been without it following the tragic floods of 2015. The Yorkshire Regiment Drums Platoon were also on hand to provide a rousing reception before the riders went on their way.
Once again the weather proved favourable and all the towns and villages along the 122.5km route did the county proud by celebrating the race in a whole host of imaginative ways as it passed by.
That must have spurred Yorkshiremen Connor Swift (Madison Genesis), James Gullen (JLT Condor) and Harry Tanfield (Bike Channel Canyon) on as they all featured in a four-man breakaway that enlivened proceedings early in the stage.
Tanfield’s efforts in the day’s two intermediate sprints saw fans on Twitter vote him into Dimension Data’s Most Active Rider jersey, but all four escapees were caught before a fast finish ensued in Harrogate.
As the sprint specialists raced towards the line Bouhanni latched onto Hivert’s wheel, but as his compatriot faded Bounhanni pressed on to seal his fourth win of the season.
Ewan’s disappointment at a successive second-placed finish was tempered by the fact that he moved into the Welcome to Yorkshire blue leader’s jersey and opened up a two-second lead over Bouhanni and Friday’s victor Dylan Groenewegen (LottNL-Jumbo).
Ewan’s consistent form also means he tops the Yorkshire Bank Points Classification while Etienne Van Empel (Roompot Nederlandse Loterij) defended his place at the top of the Virgin Trains King of the Mountain Classification. Team Dimension Data lead the Team Classification sponsored by Doncaster Sheffield Airport and FlyBe.
After the stage Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: When I arrived at the finish line today it took me right back to the Tour de France three years ago. The crowds in Harrogate were absolutely tremendous and the atmosphere was electric.
Of course, every other place along the route played an equally pivotal role in making today’s stage another huge success and it makes me so proud to know these scenes are being beamed right around the world.
It’s on to Bradford now and I’ve been looking forward Sunday’s stage ever since we revealed the route last December. We’ve nicknamed it ‘The Yorkshire Terrier’ as it’s an absolute brute with over 3,500 metres of climbing and four categorised ascents in the last 22km.
I can’t wait to see how that turns out and I’m certain it will be another unforgettable experience.
Stage two winner Nacer Bouhanni said: The conclusion of today’s stage was hard and steep. Here in Yorkshire it seems like all the roads are hilly!
Yesterday I watched the finish of the 2014 Tour de France stage here when Marcel Kittel won and that allowed me to better understand today’s sprint. I produced my effort with 400m to go and when Jonathan Hivert kicked I knew I had to react immediately.
This is my fourth win of the season and it gives me confidence because the Tour de Yorkshire is my first race after a brief break. There were so many people on the road today it felt like the Tour de France.
- Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 2:45:51
- Caleb Ewan (AUS) Orica-Scott
- Jonathan Hivert (FRA) Direct Energie
- Dylan Groenewegen (NED) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
- Chris Lawless (GBR) Great Britain
- Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) Dimension Data
- S¿ren Kragh Andersen (DEN) Team Sunweb
- Tony Hurel (FRA) Direct Energie
- Matthew Homes (GBR) Madison Genesis
- Adam Blythe (GBR) Aqua Blue Sport
General Classification after stage two
1 Caleb Ewan (AUS) Orica-Scott 6:55:17
2 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) Cofidis, Solutions Credits +0:00:02
3 Dylan Groenewegen (NED) Team LottoNl-Jumbo +0:00:02