A wall of sound greeted Maximillian Walscheid as he sprinted to victory on a sizzling third stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. The crescent-shaped slopes of Scarborough’s North Bay provided a perfect natural amphitheatre for the fourth year in succession and tens of thousands of fans bathed in temperatures hotter than Palma, Paris and Tenerife to watch another dramatic finish unfurl.
The total crowd of 650,000 had lined the 181km route from Richmond, taking the three-day total to a whopping 1.7 million!
It had looked as though French rider Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Énergie) was going to spoil the sprinters’ party once again, but the three-time Tour de France stage winner was caught with just 300m to go and Walscheid (Team Sunweb) fired past him to seal his first victory of the season.
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Friday’s stage winner Magnus Cort Nielsen crossed the line just inches behind to take second place, and bonus seconds on the line saw him tighten his grip on the blue leader’s jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries. Astana Pro Team Rider now leads Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) by 10 seconds with just the final ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ stage remaining.
Nielsen also tops the best sprinter classification sponsored by Asda, while Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis) will defend the red best climber’s jersey (sponsored by Virgin Trains) for a third successive stage. Said Nielson;
“It was a tough stage, especially the final bit into Scarborough – but I’m still in the leader’s jersey and the team did a really good job. We managed to get a couple of bonus seconds on the line as well so I’m happy with that.
“The team have done a really good job, the goal was to defend the jersey and we’ve done that and we’re very happy with that.
“Sunday will be the big battle. I don’t know if I can look forward to it, I would have liked for the Tour to end in Scarborough but we take the match-up and see how we go.”
A five-strong breakaway saw the race strung out from the start, only for them to be captured 20km from the Scarborough finish.
But the race pace took its toll as the peloton split in two for the first time, with the sprint finish eventually seeing German Walscheid do the business in front of a packed-out crowd. But another man celebrating was Great Britain’s Pete Williams, earning the Dimension Data grey jersey as the most active rider of the day, voted by the fans.
He was part of the early breakaway while also taking points on the first King of the Mountain stage on the Yorkshire roads, an area he is becoming all too familiar with. But with points also came prizes for Williams – or more specifically his new-born son, Maxwell.
“It’s always nice to come away with a jersey, it’s something I can show my boy who was born last week, and I knew he was watching on the TV which is nice. To have the support is nice, ONE Pro Cycling do a lot with the fans and that interaction, so to have that support is fantastic.
“This event is a huge event for our team, it’s a highlight of the year – it’s massively important for us to do well and show ourselves, as well as enjoying it.
“The legs aren’t too bad, they’re coming round but Sunday is a different day – it’s an incredibly tough one but it goes past my house and my front door, in Skipton, which is nice. It’s fantastic, the roads are closed so to have that opportunity with all the crowd out – in an area you know – is really special.”
Yorkshire Bank is an Official Partner of the Tour de Yorkshire and the ground-breaking Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries initiative. Visit www.ybonline.co.uk/tdy
Thanks to Ross Lawson, Sportsbeat