Clockwise from top left: TV helicopters hover over the women’s peloton. Amazing crowds at the finish in Leeds on day four. The peloton winds its way through stunning locations. Greg Van Avermaet celebrates winning the overall race. Megan Guarnier takes the win on Stage 2 on the Côte de Cow and Calf in Ilkley.
TOUR DE FORCE Yorkshire is gearing up for its biggest cycling year to date, as not only the host of the UCI Road World Championships but also the fifth edition of the annual Tour de Yorkshire. Tom Ashurst gets us in the mood for what’s to come with a look back at the county’s fourth edition of the world-class cycling extravaganza. The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire could hardly have been better. It all began in the gorgeous market town of Beverley, host for a race start back in 2016. However, this time, ponchos were exchanged for parasols as the only things teeming down were glorious golden rays. Yorkshire is magnificent all year round, but there’s nothing quite like Yorkshire in the sunshine – it’s not called God’s Own County for nothing. After a pulsating day in the saddle, history repeated itself in the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race as Dutch powerhouse Kirsten Wild continued her love affair with Doncaster with a perfectly timed sprint finish to take stage one. Wild’s balance, raw power and timing were impeccable as per her victory in this town two years earlier. In the men’s race it was a completely different story. A five-man breakaway held off a talent-packed peloton,
which included a certain Mark Cavendish, but Great Ayton’s Harry Tanfield emerged victorious. To quote the man himself, “scenes!”. Barnsley’s exemplary Town Hall was the backdrop for the start of Stage 2 as the bunch rolled out in earnest again. The heavyweights exchanged punches on the day’s numerous climbs, but it was on the final climb, the Ilkley Cow & Calf, that the fireworks really started. Megan Guarnier could not be passed on her birthday and held on to take the stage and with it, the overall 2018 title. This would prove to be the final professional victory in the glittering career of Guarnier – and what a way to finish. In her words “That was really hard, but I can only say, I have never had a crowd like the one coming up that climb. It was so loud, they were so amazing and it was so cool to win after all those cheers.”