Despite a high speed pile-up during the final few hundred meters of Stage 1, a sprint finish decided the outcome of the opening day as expected, Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen navigating a late path to the front of affairs in order to take the win as predicted by Spokenforks. Stage 2 should be an easier day in the saddle for the peloton, lasting a relatively short 122.5km from Tadcaster to Harrogate, the course only possessing a single classified climb in the shape of the testing Côte de Lofthouse (1.7km, avg 11.4%). The racing is likely to be more intense as a result of the shorter distance, but the general belief is that a sprint finish shall once again determine the stage victor at the Tour of Yorkshire. With a finale which tilts upwards in regards to gradient, this could be a day for the punchier lightweight sprinters to stake claim to stage honours.
Nacer Bouhanni failed to capitalise on the work of his Cofidis teammates yesterday, finishing off the podium in fourth place, despite a committed effort by the French outfit in the final kilometres. He will not be best pleased with yesterday’s result, so shall no doubt be motivated to strike success at the second time of asking at the day’s finish in Harrogate. Bouhanni climbs very well for a sprinter and is unlikely to be worried about the final section of rolling terrain which leads up to the finish line itself.
Caleb Ewan has previously combined his explosive power and small build to take advantage of uphill finishes such as these, making him a likely contender for the win on Stage 2 of 2017’s Tour of Yorkshire. Beaten in surprising fashion by Dylan Groenewegen yesterday, the latter having to start his sprint from amongst traffic, Ewan will know that he realistically is the fastest rider at the race. With the finish in Harrogate expected to be less hectic than Stage 1’s finale, he is bound to be positioned well by his Orica-Scott team in order to burst uphill for the win.
Kristian Sbaragli is never afforded a great deal of time in the limelight at major races, yet is a name which is often seen populating the upper rankings of stage finishes at major races. Though he struggles against the most powerful sprinters on a flat head to head finale, today’s gradient to the line should provide him with a levelling of the field for him to take advantage of. He came home in sixth place on the opening day, which is an encouraging sign, and will have a strong roster of Dimension Data riders at his disposal to help him late on.
Dylan Groenewegen took the opening stage as anticipated by Spokenforks, remaining anonymous in the leading group until very late on in the final kilometre. The young Dutch rider showed great patience while boxed in by his rivals, eventually being reward with a small gap to manoeuvre through, from which he ultimately surged to the line to edge out Caleb Ewan. Some will argue that today’s Stage 2 is an even better prospect for Groenewegen, and with concerns over the fitness of team leader Steven Kruijswijk after crashing, the powerful LottoNL – Jumbo team could decide he is the new man to back at this race.
Danny Van Poppel should be in the mix for the win on Stage 2 and will be eager for his Team Sky teammates to stay clear of any late crashes in Harrogate this time. The Dutch sprinter could prove to be another rider who benefits from the slight rise at the finish, but his form has not been particularly consistent this season, making it difficult to know exactly how great a contender he is. Regardless, he should be guaranteed a good position when it matters most and his explosive acceleration is capable of establishing a gap which is difficult to close when racing uphill.
Magnus Cort Nielsen may be gifted leadership from Caleb Ewan for a finish such as this, but only if the Australian is not feeling up to contesting the finale. Nielsen has risen rapidly through the peloton in the last year, demonstrating a great power in tough sprints, but will struggle to be allowed to go for the win himself on Stage 2. Will not start Stage 2 after sustaining suspected broken collarbone.
Adam Blythe was not directly hampered by the crash in the final kilometre yesterday, though certainly hesitated to continuing sprinting once he realised things around him were not going to plan. The British champion was not feeling in the best of form on the opening day, so his team will be hoping he can bounce back in Harrogate to challenge for the win and deliver the first British winner of a stage of the Tour of Yorkshire.
Tom Moses is a Yorkshireman who may well find himself with greater freedom to attack now his JLT – Condor team leader Russell Downing is out with a broken collarbone. Dangerous from either a breakaway or an uphill sprint, it would not prove wise to let Moses gain too great a gap on the peloton in the final moments of Stage 2.
1st Kristian Sbaragli 2nd Dylan Groenewegen 3rd Caleb Ewan