Previews Races Tour de Yorkshire

2019 Tour de Yorkshire: stage 1 preview

Who will take the honours on the opening stage?

The route

178.5 flat-ish kilometres from Doncaster to Selby. It’s a flat stage, and the day’s only categorised climb, Baggaby Hill, should be far enough from the finish to prevent any late attackers escaping the peloton’s grasp. This should the kind of day where we will see the Continental teams scrap it out to get into the day’s breakaway and fight for the right to take the first sprints and king of the mountains jerseys.

The stage should end in a bunch sprint, but of course Harry Tanfield upset the apple cart on a similar stage 1 last year by taking the win from a breakaway. Much will depend on how hard the sprinters’ teams are prepared to work to catch the inevitable breakaway.

Bonus seconds are available at the two intermediate sprints (3, 2 and 1 seconds available to the first 3 across the line), with more bonus seconds available on the finish line GC (10, 6 and 4 seconds).

Watch out for king of the mountains specialist James Fouché (Team Wiggins Le Col) too. He’s won the mountains competition in every stage race he’s ridden this season so far, so may be keen to grab an early lead on Baggaby Hill.

Weather

Light rain showers and a moderate breeze are forecast for this afternoon with temperatures maxing out at 14 degrees.

Contenders

Assuming it does come down to a sprint finish, there’s a good chance of a British win. With Kittel forced to withdraw from the race for health reasons, Cavendish is the only big name sprinter in the race.

Team INEOS will be looking to make a positive impression in their first race in their new burgundy livery and fastman Chris Lawless (Team INEOS) could be the man to make it. Whilst he doesn’t get a lot of sprinting opportunities at INEOS, he showed he still has a powerful turn of speed by getting 3rd at Scheldeprijs this season.

Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) is still on the road to recovery after suffering with Epstein-Barr virus. A 3rd place on stage 3 of the recent Tour of Turkey – against a strong sprinting field – was a timely confidence booster though. And as the biggest pedigree sprinter at the race, he should fancy his chances here.

EF Education First sprinter Dan McLay rides for the Great Britain team in Yorkshire. He got a win in the Herald Sun Tour at the beginning of the year but has otherwise had a rather quiet season thus far. Nonetheless, on his day, he’s fast enough to compete with the best, and will be motivated to perform in what is a contract year for him.

Gabz Cullaigh (Team Wiggins Le Col) is the on-form domestic-level sprinter at the moment. He grabbed a stage win at the Volta ao Alentejo in March and should have won the CiCLE Classic on Sunday. He’s not an out-and-out sprinter, but as Sunday proved he has a strong lead-out team in Tom Pidcock and Rob Scott and we wouldn’t bet against him reaching the podium or better.

The Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team have several sprint options and it will be interesting to see how they play things. Both Jacob Hennessy and Robert Jon McCarthy are strong sprinters, and Rory Townsend has also used his turn of speed to get on the podium in big races this season. We think one of either Hennessy or McCarthy will be the designated sprinter for the team. Whoever it is, both are capable of a top 10, if not better.

Others to watch out for? In the absence of Marcel Kittel, Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) might have a rare chance to ride for himself in a bunch sprint. Chris Latham (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother) is very fast on his day but hasn’t yet shown any signs of his best form yet this season. Latham’s teammate Scott Thwaites is no slouch either, and could be another option for the team. Jacob Tipper (Ribble Pro Cycling) has won sprint finishes before in UCI races and could well be in the mix. Ian Garrison (Hagens Berman Axeon) and Boy Van Poppel (Roompot-Charles) are also riders that could feature.

Watch out for king of the mountains specialist James Fouché (Team Wiggins Le Col) too. He’s won the mountains competition in every stage race he’s ridden this season so far, so may be keen to grab an early lead on Baggaby Hill.

TV

ITV4 and Eurosport will both show the race live from 1pm.

Featured photo: Alex Whitehead / SWpix.com

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