The first ever Tour de Yorkshire takes place this weekend aiming to refocus some of the attention it received during the Tour de France. The three days cover most of the major Yorkshire towns with start/finishes in the Tour destinations of Leeds and York. With a number of big names racing it should capture of the imagination of a British public wanting to see more of their favourite riders.
Tour de Yorkshire Stages
Stage 1 – Bridlington › Scarborough (174km) – Flat
Stage 2 – Selby › York (174km) – Flat
Stage 3 – Wakefield › Leeds (167km) – Medium Hills
Tour de Yorkshire Contenders
The nature of the race dictates that a powerful sprinter will probably win the race as all three stages have the potential to be bunch sprints.
If it does come down to sprints, it’s hard to see anyone beating Marcel Kittel – stage 2 looks like it was tailor made for him and it’ll be up to everyone else to drop him before the finish.
British rider Ben Swift has been doing well at this 2.1 level of races this year and managed 13th in Milan – San Remo. He is the sort of powerful sprinter that shouldn’t have a problem on any of the 3 stages.
Greg Van Avermaet falls into the same type of rider, he should play a part in all 3 sprint finishes with the third stage in particular offering him a chance to do something different for the overall.
In the next rung down of sprinter quality are names such as Matteo Pelucchi, Moreno Hofland, Gerald Ciolek, Ben Hermans, Julien Simon and Steele Von Hoff. Any of these are capable of winning sprints on their day but the jury is out as to whether they will be in the mix on each of the 3 stages.
Von Hoff won the Rutland Classic earlier this week which shows decent form. Julien Simon has a number of top 20 finishes at WorldTour level this season which means he should have the capability to get top 10s here.
Hofland had three good results during Paris – Nice and Ciolek has a 2nd place on a Tirreno – Adriatico stage this year.
The final group are big names that will be racing but have limited chance of winning the overall race. Thomas Voeckler, Bradley Wiggins and Samuel Sanchez will all be racing but apart from maybe a do or die breakaway from Vockler, none of them have a realistic chance of winning due to the lack of a proper summit finish.
Tour de Yorkshire Outsiders
Jean-Pierre Drucker performed well at the Driedaagse West Vlaanderen race being consistently well placed over the race. Stage 3 could be his.
Brits Owain Doull & Chris Opie are in contention – Doull in particular has done very well in 2015 with lots of top tens at the 2.2/2.1 level that the Tour of Yorkshire is pitched at. He’ll also have Bradley Wiggins as a teammate.
Chris Opie finished second in the Rutland Classic earlier in the week against not quite the same level of a field – a sign of form and could well perform this weekend.
Tour de Yorkshire Prediction
1 – Marcel Kittel
2 – Ben Swift
3 – Greg Van Avermaet