Through enormous crowds reminiscent of last year’s Tour de France, JLT Condor’s Richard Handley rode to a top ten position in the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire.
The tough three day event was born out of the legacy of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart with the final queen stage capping an outstanding weekend in Yorkshire. An estimated 750,000 spectators took to Sunday’s route between Wakefield and Roundhay Park, Leeds to cheer on the riders.
Reflecting on the racing, team manager John Herety said “The terrain was terrific and very difficult on stage one and three and the racing was of a very high standard. Rich read the race well and on every occasion was to the fore when the real fireworks started.”
“It is confirmation of the talent he has and I was pleased to see him finish in a high position.”
“The crowds were unbelievable and it was a good experience for the team and the younger riders.”
How the race unfolded
The opening stage was billed as a sprint day but proved to be anything but a simple run to the finish. After Team Sky chased down the initial break of the day and although there were a number of skirmishes it was a split with 40km to go that formed the winning move. 15 riders made the selection and it included Richard Handley. Team Sky’s Deignan put the hammer down on the summit of the Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay after 145km and it was only Thomas Voecker (Europcar), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky), Stephane Rossetto (Confidis) and Sammy Sanchez (BMC) who were able to respond.
Richard Handley finished ninth in the chase group, one minute behind stage winner Lars Petter Nordhaug.
|Richard Handley placed ninth on the opening stage finishing in Scarborough|
Stage 2, 174km from Selby to York was a flatter affair with JLT Condor aiming to protect Handley’s high position and to feature in the predicted bunch sprint into York.
A break went clear early on the stage and was eventually reeled-in by Dutch team Lotto-Jumbo with just 5km to go and Dutch rider Moreno Hofland rewarded Lotto-Jumbo with victory.
The hotly contested sprint saw JLT Condor’s newest recruit, Harry Tanfield finished 9th – he and former British Road Race Champion, Russ Downing being the only Brits to appear inside the top ten.
|Harry Tanfield sprints to ninth on stage 2|
Sunday’s Queen stage featured no less than six categorised climbs with only a few metres of flat road en-route to Leeds. After two days of relatively good weather the Yorkshire peloton were treated to a more typical climate of rain and grey skies after setting out from Wakefield.
A break was quickly established but posed no threat to Sky or the top placed riders in the general classification. At around 50km to go Team Sky began to pick up the tempo, riding a high pace to limit the attacks from the rivals who sat only 10 seconds adrift of the top spot. The pace was such they shed most of the field, including Bradley Wiggins. However, Richard Handley dug in and produced a strong ride to maintain his place in the select group of riders.
On an uncategorised climb 15km to the finish Ben Hermans from BMC Racing set off in search of the stage win, managing to hold off the 18 man leading group containing Handley.
Richard Handley and Erick Rowsell were the best of the British riders with Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) not far behind in 11th place.
Final overall classification
1. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky in 12:47:56
2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing at 11 secs
3. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at s.t.
4. Stephane Rossetto (Fra) at 13 secs
5. Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky at 24 secs
6. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing at 1:05
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 1:15
8. Erick Rowsell (GBr) Madison-Genesis at 1:21
9. Huub Duijn (Ned) Roompot-Oranje at 1:27
10. Richard Handley (GBr) JLT-Condor at s.t.