Stage 3 wrap
One word: breathtaking. We billed the stage as a potential humdinger, and it didn’t disappoint.
Riding into a strong headwind for the first part of the stage, it took 30km for the break to form. When it did, nine riders went clear: Mike Cuming (Madison Genesis), Kévin Reza (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels), Robert Scott (Team Wiggins Le Col), Romain Sicard (Total Direct Energie), Maikel Zijlaard (Hagens Berman Axion), John Archibald (Ribble Pro Cycling), Michael Mottram (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother), Stephen Bradbury (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) and Robin Carpenter (Rally UHC). Robert Scott made the most of his outing by grabbing enough points to move him into the mountains classification lead.
It was the action behind though that really caught the eye. Team Ineos and the CCC Team split the peloton in the crosswinds near Whitby and the race was blown apart. The breakaway was quickly swept up and a lead group of around 20 riders formed.
The group was dominated – and tightly controlled – by riders from Team Ineos, CCC Team and the Pro Continental team Riwal
The group stayed largely together all the way to the finish in Scarborough. At the finish, Team Ineos hit out first, with Owain Doull leading out Chris Lawless. But it was the young Dane Alexander Kamp (Riwal-
With the time bonuses taken into account, Lawless now leads the overall classification, tied on time with Kamp. Van Avermaet is just 6 seconds back, with a bunch of other potential overall contenders at 10 seconds.
Stage 4 route
Stage 4 is almost identical to last year’s Stage 4. It provided us with a spectacular day of attacking racing, crowned by Stephane Rossetto’s daring long-range win. Let’s hope for more of the same in 2019. The stage will start in the beautiful Piece Hall in Halifax, used for last year’s stage start a. The race heads into the Yorkshire Dales National Park and takes in five categorised climbs, before heading into Leeds for the finish.
The riders will no doubt be relieved to know that the forecast is for dry weather, up to 9 degrees, and with only a light breeze.
With the GC race essentially confined to the first 16 riders in the overall classification, a break might be allowed some leeway, with big time gaps to most of the rest of the peloton.
Then again, with 5 of those riders from Team INEOS, we might expect an attacking race from the ‘team formerly know as Sky’, as they’ll no doubt want to try to isolate Van Avermaet, Kamp and other fast finishers in the remaining GC cohort.
Either way, with the riders facing the toughest terrain (if not weather) of the entire race, the stage could be even more selective than yesterday.
Van Avermaet certainly looks the favourite on paper. He looked comfortable yesterday and showed in the sprint finish he is one of the fastest
Team INEOS have several cards to play. Doull, Froome and Dunbar all have the potential to do something. Doull has the fastest finish of the three, but he did a lot of work yesterday in the wind, so it may be up to Froome and Dunbar to try to dislodge Van Avermaet and co in the hills.
Yesterday’s winner Kamp could win again. He’s clearly on form and his team will be highly motivated to drop Lawless and seal the overall win.
Several strong British Continental riders remain in the mix too and all of them have the right characteristics to make a claim for the overall win if things go their way. Scott Thwaites looked every bit a World Tour rider yesterday and could win the stage if it comes down to a small sprint. Madison Genesis
Just to completely hedge my bets, I wouldn’t discount Slagter (Dimension Data), Van der Lijke (Roompot-Charles) or Stokbro (Riwal-
Coverage starts from 12.30 today on ITV4 and Eurosport.
Featured photo: Alex Broadway / SWPix.com