As expected, yesterday’s stage never quite became tough enough to send the sprinters and their teams out the back door and thus avoid the bunch gallop many had correctly expected. The main result of this is that the general classification shall be determined by the final day at this year’s Tour of Yorkshire, a rolling day in the saddle which serves up plenty of harsh gradients to ensure the overall race winner is a worthy champion. The decisive day is a 194.5km route from Bradford to Sheffield, encompassing eight classified climbs, creating what is likely to be an attritional day for the peloton. Akin to an Ardennes style race profile, an elite group of riders shall be formed over the final four climbs, the first beginning just 20km away from the finish line.
Omar Fraile has previously won the mountains classification jersey at La Vuelta, equipping him with the necessary survival skills to negotiate the final salvo of climbs which lead into Sheffield. He looked good during Liége – Bastogne – Liége and will not be afraid of animating the race during the final moments.
Serge Pauwels was our pre-race favourite for the overall win at this year’s Tour of Yorkshire, but we do now find ourselves leaning somewhat more favourably in the direction of his teammate Fraile. Regardless, the Belgian rider is a class act when it comes to climbing, and though he has been the quieter of the two Dimension Data riders, this may be an indication that Pauwels is saving everything for this final day.
Brent Bookwalter is a dangerous combination of climbing prowess and sprint speed, leading a BMC squad which has plenty of strength to support him in any attempt to win the overall classification on the final day. His ability uphill is certainly a threat to his rivals here, but whether or not he is suited to this Ardennes style finale is the big question.
Stephane Rossetto appeared in great form during Liége – Bastogne – Liége, a key protagonist during La Doyenne, he should find the latter half of the stage to his liking in Yorkshire. His best hope for victory is to attack from slightly further out than is expected, gaining an advantage on his rivals ahead of Sheffield, thus avoiding any worries about sprinting for the win.
Maurits Lammertink is not a particularly familiar name for many with an interest in professional cycling, yet the Katusha rider has enjoyed a good campaign in the Ardennes and could use Stage 3 as a springboard to overall victory.
Tao Geoghegan-Hart should be the best bet for Team Sky to secure the first stage win and overall win by a British rider at the Tour of Yorkshire since its inception in 2015. The lithe climber has twice finished third at the youth edition of Liége – Bastogne – Liége, demonstrating a talent for handling himself on a course which packs steep climbs late in the day. If the race has truly broken apart with only 30km remaining, then it is likely that he shall seek to step up and take advantage.
Other riders to watch for include Thomas Voeckler, Anthony Turgis, Tom Stewart, Pieter Weening, Mauro Finetto and Stef Clement.
1st Maurits Lammertink 2nd Tao Geoghegan-Hart 3rd Stephane Rossetto