Caleb Ewan sprints to second on opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire

Fri 29 Apr 2016

2016 Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan sprinted to second place on the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire today after strong work by ORICA-GreenEDGE in the closing kilometres of the race.

A cold, wet and windy day unfolded over the North Yorkshire dales with a breakaway of six riders ahead for most of the day. ORICA-GreenEDGE began to take control at the head of the peloton in the final third with Paris-Roubaix champion Mathew Hayman and Dane Chris Juul-Jensen riding hard and protecting Ewan.

Ewan was boxed in going into the final kilometre and it looked like there was no way out until the 21-year old burst through a small gap to finish in second place just behind stage winner Dylan Groenwengen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Sport director Matt Wilson was pleased with the team’s performance.

“The day went really well for us today,” said Wilson. “The whole team rode a fantastic race but it didn’t go our way in the final.”

“Caleb (Ewan) has achieved some great results already this season and he’s a marked man in the sprints now. He did a great job to get out of the crowd and came very close to taking the stage win.”

“It was a freezing cold day and the heavy rain made the conditions even worse,” continued Wilson. “We wanted to keep ourselves in a good position at the front and I think we did that.”

“Tomorrow is a flatter stage and hopefully we will get another crack at the sprint.”

How it happened:

A cold English lunchtime welcomed the riders to the start of stage one of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire in Beverly today.

Large crowds gathered to watch the neutral start and a six-rider breakaway formed within the first few kilometres. After an hour of racing the group had developed a lead of around four minutes.

Team Sky were heavily represented at the front of the peloton with Cheung King Lok of ORICA-GreenEDGE exchanging pulls with the English team. With 120kilometres left to race the advantage of the six leaders had fallen to three minutes 30seconds.

Passing through the picturesque town of Knaresborough, with under 90kilometres to go, the breakaway group of six still had over three minutes advantage on the chasing peloton. 

Coupled with the low temperatures, heavy rain was now falling making the conditions even more difficult. ORICA-GreenEDGE were now at the front of the peloton in numbers as the leaders' advantage had slipped back out to four minutes.

The breakaway group of six split in half with 70kilometres to go as riders were dropped on one of the uncategorised climbs that peppered the route. Three leaders now remained out front with another three riders around two minutes ahead of the main field.

The three leaders had over three minutes on the peloton going into the Greenhow Hill climb. With an average gradient of 8.6% and a maximum of 15% the climb was made even more difficult by a block headwind. Cresting the climb and the leaders' advantage had fallen to under two minutes.

The advantage continued to fall approaching the finishing circuits of the North Yorkshire market town of Settle. The field came back together with 32kilometres to g. Team Sky were attempting to monopolise the positions at the front of the peloton with 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Hayman tucked just behind sheltering Ewan.

The run into the finish saw ORICA-GreenEDGE and Dimension Data now controlling things at the front of the peloton. Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) made a late attempt at a solo attack but was reeled in with less than three kilometres left to race. The finish was shaping up for a sprint.

With a slight incline leading up to the line it was never going to be a straightforward finish. The bunch fragmented as riders broke early with Ewan sitting three or four wheels back and boxed in when Groenwengen started his sprint. The young Australian had it all to do but manoeuvered and then powered past the rest of the contenders and just ran out of road as Groenwengen crossed the line half a bike length ahead of Ewan.

Stage two takes place tomorrow covering 136kilometres from Otley to Doncaster.

Tour De Yorkshire stage one results:

1. Dylan Groenwengen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 05:09:11
2. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST 
3. Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) ST 

General classification after stage one:

1. Dylan Groenwengen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 05:09:11
2. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:04 
3. Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) 00:00:06