Dylan Groenwegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire from a mass sprint. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Greenedge) placed 2nd and 3rd place went the way of Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin).
It was a cold and gloomy start to the Tour de Yorkshire as riders left Beverley with the temperature not that much more than a few degrees above zero. 6 riders got into the early move of the day and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, along with Team Sky, took control of the peloton.
Bernie Eisel, our African Team’s road captain, martialled the troops well and spent a large amount of time on the front of the peloton controlling the gap to the break. As the race ploughed straight into a headwind for most of the day, there was always this sense of nervousness as with a slight change of wind direction the crosswinds had the potential to decimate the peloton. This would not materialise though and the break was caught with a little over 20km to go, thanks to a great job by our African Team.
Most teams were then focused on a sprint finish but Steve Cummings was not going to make it that easy for them. In what is becoming trademark fashion now, Cummings jumped away with around 5km to go just moments after 2 other riders tried their luck too. Cummings quickly caught and passed the duo that were ahead and went in pursuit of the finish line, solo. LottoNL-Jumbo and Orica-Greenedge had to commit fully to the chase as Cummings put down the power.
While this tactic has worked for Cummings a number of times in the past, today he would be caught with 1.5km to go. The sprint then followed and LottoNL-Jumbo’s work paid off as their sprinter took the win in Settle. While our African Team didn’t have a rider finish in the top 10 on the stage, Serge Pauwels showed great awareness to take a bonus second at an intermediate sprint with 10km to go. This meant our Belgian ended the stage in 6th place on the General Classification. Unfortunately, Nic Dougall wasn’t able to finish today’s stage due to an Achilles tendon strain.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
The weather made it a hard race today. It was very cold and rainy, and there was a headwind all day. Steve played his card in the final to try and win the stage but unfortunately he did not succeed. I was able to take a bonus second at an intermediate sprint near the finish, so we look forward to this weekend’s stages.