Home hero Harry Tanfield sealed a surprise victory as the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire reached a rip-roaring conclusion in Doncaster.
The 23 year old from Great Ayton worked his way into the day’s main breakaway and then played a pivotal role as the escapees evaded the peloton on the 182km trek from Beverley.
With 300 metres to go Tanfield turned on the afterburners and edged past Alistair Slater (JLT Condor) to become the first-ever Yorkshireman to win a stage of the race.
Huge crowds turned out in Beverley to see the start of the fourth edition and clement conditions meant the county was at its magnificent best as the riders wound their way through the Yorkshire Wolds and then headed south towards Doncaster for that dramatic finish along Bennetthorpe.
Banners, bunting and a whole host of ingenious land art provided a brilliant backdrop as the riders sped across the largely flat parcours, and the 450,000 roadside spectators set a record figure for the first stage of the race.
The breakaway group containing Tanfield formed early in the stage and Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis) was the first rider over the Côte de Baggaby Hill to earn himself a spell in the best climber’s jersey sponsored by Virgin Trains.
Tanfield then passed Cuming on the descent which followed to take maximum points in the first intermediate sprint in Pocklington, while Slater took the next of those points in Howden.
With those in the bag the breakaway reformed and a live Twitter vote saw Tanfield awarded the most active jersey sponsored by Dimension Data before the escapees survived to battle it out for the victory.
Tanfield emerged triumphant and the bonus seconds awarded for that win meant he opened up a three-second advantage over Slater in the General Classification. The Canyon Eisberg rider will now wear the blue leader’s jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries for the second stage. He also tops the Best Sprinter Classification sponsored by Asda.
Earlier in the day, Wiggle High5 rider Kirsten Wild won the first stage of the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race. That too, came down to a bunch sprint and Wild proved the fastest finisher, outpacing Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) and Alice Barnes (Canyon Sram Racing) to take control of the blue jersey. It was the second time in succession Wild had triumphed on Bennetthorpe following her Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race success in 2016.
Doncaster Council Chief Executive Jo Miller added: “Doncaster smashed it today. Having the men’s and women’s stages finishing here meant the town was buzzing all day long and we’d like to make this a continual fixture.
“The size and number of the crowds was unbelievable too and there will be plenty of young people that have been inspired by these cyclists today.”