Opening 2017’s edition of the Tour of Yorkshire is a 174km run from Bridlington to Scarborough, taking in the climbs of Côte de Garrowby Hill, Côte de Goathland and the decisive Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay en route to the finish line. Similar to the last stage of 2016’s edition, though not quite as gruelling, the race is likely to become broken up as the peloton hits the Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay late in the day. However, with enough interest from teams with sprinters and enough firepower to keep the race together, a reduced bunch kick seems the likely outcome on Stage 1.
Nacer Bouhanni looks to have dipped a little recently, so he arrives here with no intention of simply making up the numbers and could prove to be the fastest man at the race. The Frenchman is a strong rider and can survive the late attacks of a stage like this, but often suffers as a result of it when it comes to the sprint. There is a chance he might choose to save his energy for a more likely win, though given his very combative nature, expect him to dig deep on Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay to stay in contention.
Caleb Ewan is extremely fast and is the rider to beat if the day is decided by a much bigger sprint, resembling more of a drag race than a survival of the fittest. His teammates are focused on leading him out in good position at the end of it all, perhaps likely to lean upon other teams to do the bulk of the chasing throughout the day. The diminutive sprinter should not struggle to stay in contention during the late changes in terrain, but how fresh he remains for the finale is uncertain.
Dylan Groenewegen has shown great form during the spring, yet has surprisingly remained winless despite his eye-catching performances at races such as Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Paris – Nice. Possessing a particularly gritty and determined approach to racing, the Dutchman should find the day’s course playing to his strengths pleasingly enough. A reduced bunch sprint will be the best situation for him to try and win from, so shall not hesitate to follow the late moves or utilise remaining teammates to chase down.
Danny Van Poppel leads Team Sky and shall hope to capture some glory for the British racing outfit, looking to take advantage of the smaller teams here; reduced leadout trains making it easier for a rider like Van Poppel to succeed. With an explosive acceleration at his disposal, he will seek to burst from cover later and sail past his rivals for the win.
Adam Blythe is the reigning British Road Race Champion and has moved to Irish team Aqua Blue Sport for this season, now looking comfortable in a team happy to support his ambitions at races such as the Tour of Yorkshire. A native Yorkshireman, Blythe shall not be bothered by any grotty conditions and has the engine power to get over the final climb of Côte de Robin Hood’s Bay safely enough; he may even choose to catch rivals napping and join a late breakaway.
Likely to fill out the day’s top ten in a sprint finish are Scott Thwaites, Russell Downing, Chris Opie, Steele Von Hoff and Enrique Sanz.
Those who could prove dangerous if allowed too much freedom are Tom Moses, Thomas Voeckler, Stephane Rossetto, Conor Dunne, Gatis Smukulis and Ian Bibby.
1st Dylan Groenewegen 2nd Adam Blythe 3rd Caleb Ewan