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Having made it back to the Irishman on the final descent, Voeckler kept his calm to beat Roche in 2-rider sprint on the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire; the Frenchman took the overall win, joined on the podium by Roche and Turgis

Photo: A.S.O.

ANTHONY TURGIS

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DIRECT ENERGIE

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NICOLAS ROCHE

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THOMAS VOECKLER

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TOUR DE YORKSHIRE

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01.05.2016 @ 19:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) proved that he is not ready for retirement yet as he claimed a magnificent stage win and the overall victory on the final day of the Tour de Yorkshire. Having rejoined Nicolas Roche (Sky) on the descent from the final climb, he stayed calm in the finale to beat his rival in the two-rider sprint, with Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) winning the sprint for third. The result was enough to take the overall victory ahead of Roche and Anhtony Turgis (Cofidis).

 

The wins may no longer come at the same quick rate as they did in the past but if somebody thought that Thomas Voeckler was ready for retirement, they were firmly silenced today. After he had broken a three-year victory drought at the Tour La Provence earlier in the year, the Frenchman proved that he is still a very classy bike rider by claiming both the stage win and the overall victory on the final day of the Tour de Yorkshire.

 

Voeckler had already been close to the win in last year’s inaugural edition and he was hugely ambitious for this year’s race too. After all, he won the Tour La Provence which was almost an identical copy of the British race as it featured two sprint stages and a hilly, decisive stage.

 

However, Voeckler was up against a mighty Sky team that had numerous cards to play and he had to use of all his experience and strength to beat the home favourites who played with the muscles and made it a hard race all day. In the end, he found himself up against Sky leader Nicolas Roche and he played it calm in the finale to win a 2-rider sprint.

 

Sky had brought the break back early and created a huge selection as they approached the third of six climbs on the hilly course. Peter Kennaugh had made the first big difference and quickly got assistance from Luke Rowe as they entered the final 70km. The pair set the pace of the 40-50-rider group and led teammates Gianni Moscon and Rowe over the top of the climb.

 

After the summit, they hit a crosswind section and here Kennaugh and Rowe went full gas. Suddenly, a 9-rider group had formed and in addition to the Sky riders Roche, Moscon, Kennaugh, Nordhaug and Fenn, only Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and the Orica-GreenEDGE pair of Adam Yates and Christopher Juul had made the selection. A second group with the likes of Voeckler, Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alberto Losada (Katusha) and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) made it back as they entered the final 60km and four kilometres later, BMC managed to bring a group with the likes of Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha), Rohan Dennis, Joey Rosskopf, Ben Hermans (BMC), Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Matthew Holmes (Genesis) back in contention.

 

 

A 30-rider group had gathered and Rowe and Kennaugh continued to set the pace until they approached the final intermediate sprint. Here Moscon upped the pace and he managed to hold off Turgis and his leader Nordhaug who was clearly displeased.

 

After the sprint, Kenneugh and Rowe went back to work, keeping a steady pace until they hit the next climb with 43km to go. Kennaugh swung off and it was Rowe who led the group onto the ascent.

 

Pauwels launched a strong solo attack and this forced Moscon to lead the chase, whittling the group down to around 15 riders in the process, with Tankink, Holmes, Dennis, Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and among the riders to lose contact. Pauwels was first at the top, followed by Mocon, Roche and Yates but decided to wait for the group which caught with 40km to go.

 

14 riders had gathered in front with Moscon, Roche, Nordhaug, Voeckler, Yates, Pauwels, Turgis, Hardy, Van den Broeck, Kruijswijk, Juul, Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) all there. Again BMC were on the defensive and Dennis and Rosskopf were forced to chase hard in a second group that was around 15 seconds behind. They made it back with 34km to go and Rowe went straight to the front to take over from Moscon.

 

Moscon led the group onto the penultimate climb with 28km to go and this is where Roche made the key selection. The Irishman attacked hard and only Yates could keep up with him. Kruijswijk quickly joined them while Turgis and Voeckler formed a chase group. Nordhaug almost made it back to the chasers but h exploded and dropped back to a big chase group.

 

With 20km to go, the two Frenchmen were still 10 seconds behind the leaders and they dug really deep to make the junction two kilometres later. 20 seconds behind, a big chase group was formed and it was Katusha and BMC working hard to bring the leaders back, with Vicioso working for Van den Broeck and Dennis working for Hermans. However, they kept losing ground and were 50 seconds behind with 15km to go.

 

Arndt was stuck in between and was less than 20 seconds behind at some point. However, he slowly started to lose ground and could see the gap go out to 40 seconds as he entered the final 11km. At this point, the chase group was at 1.05.

 

As they entered the final 10km, Arndt was starting to crack and was now 45 seconds behind the front quintet while the peloton was at 1.05. Meanwhile, Dennis who had been working hard for Hermans, swung off and Vicioso also ended his work. Van den Broeck and Hermans were the most active in the pace-setting but the gap stayed around a minute.

 

With 7km to go, Kruijswijk led the front quintet onto the short 800m climb in the finale and it was a bit of a watching game as Turgis took over. It was Roche who finally decided to up the pace slightly but as it was not a real attack, the group stayed together.

 

While Nordhaug attacked out of the chase group, Roche went full gas and only Turgis could hang onto the Irishman while Voeckler and Yates gave chase, with Kruijswik quickly losing ground. Roche had slightly distanced Turgis as he reached the top, with Voeckler and Yates following just a few seconds later.

 

Yates and Voeckler picked up Turgis and the trio started to cooperate as they tried to bring Roche back. Further back, Nordhaug and Moscon had passed the fading Arndt and were now chasing desperately.

 

Voeckler showed his impressive descending skills and while Kruijswijk rejoined the chasers, he got away. The Frenchman made the junction just after they had reached a short, flat section with a small advantage over their three chasers.

 

Voeckler went straight to the front and led the duo onto the coastal road. The pair cooperated perfectly to open a 10-second advantage as they entered the final 10km.

 

The tactical game started just before they passed the flamme rouge when Voeckler refused to come through for another turn and it was left to Roche to set the pace for almost the entire kilometre. Voeckler played it cool and made a bit of a gamble before he launched his sprint and Roche had no response and was not even trying to come around the Frenchman who crossed the line with a big winning margin. Roche had to settle for second while Yates won the sprint for third 9 seconds later. Moscon and Nordhaug arrived a little later before Juul won the sprint for 8th from the chase group.

 

As most of the contenders had started the stage equal on time, Voeckler also took the overall victory with a 6-second advantage over Roche, with Turgis benefiting from bonus seconds in the stage to take third, 7 seconds further adrift. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the points jersey and Nathan Haas (Dimesnion Data) was the best climber.

 

With the Tour de Yorkshire done and dusted, racing in Great Britain will take a big break. The next major event is the RideLondon Classic in August.

 

The queen stage

After two days for the sprinters, it was time for the queen stage on the final day of the race as the riders tackled 198km from Middlesbrough to Scarborough. After a flat start, the riders hit the first climb after 62km of racing and from there they tackled narrow, winding roads with numerous climbs of which another five were categorized. The penultimate climb was located with 28km to go and then flat roads led to an 800m ascent that summited just 6km from the line.

 

It was another windy, rainy and cold day when the riders gathered for the start and all riders that finished yesterday were present as they rolled out for their neutral ride. With this kind of profile, it was no surprise that many were keen to attack but the break was formed surprisingly early when Liam Holohan (Wiggins), Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), Loic Chetout (Cofidis), Chris Opie (ONE), Marco Haller (Katusha), Matt Cronshaw (Madison), Nick Van der Lijke (Roompot), Maxime Farazijn (Topsport), Gabriel Cullaigh (Great Britain) and Ian Wilkinson (Great Britain) escaped. Pete Williams (ONE) was one of many riders to try to bridge the gap but Giant-Alpecin helped to control things.

 

NFTO start to chase

Team Sky took over the pace-setting duties, keeping the gap at just around 20 seconds, before LottoNL-Jumbo took over and allowed it to grown out to a minute. It was 1.39 with 177km to go and it quickly reached 2.15.

 

NFTO came to the fore and took over from LottoNL-Jumbo as they had missed the break and they allowed the gap to hover between 1.30 and 2.00 for some time. Meanwhile, Haas suffered a puncture and had to spend some energy to rejoin the group. He was back in time for the first intermediate sprint which he won ahead of Cronshaw and Chetout.

 

The break splits up

As the front group hit the first climb, it immediately split up as Wilkinson was the first to get distanced. Haas was pushing the pace and the riders dropped one on by one until he crested the summit with a small advantage over Chetout and Holohan. Haller and Opie were next but all but Wilkinson made it back on the descent. In the peloton, Sky and NFTO patrolled the front up the climb, 1.42 behind the leaders, creating a few splits, but a regrouping took place on the descent.

 

Andrew Fenn moved to the front for Sky and worked with NFTO and Direct Energie to bring Wilkinson back and keep the gap just below the 2-minute mark. Entering the final 120km, the upped the pace and the gap was down to just 1.10 15km later.

 

Two riders bridge across

As the peloton approached the second climb, the fight for position started and it was NFTO who set the pace on the ascent, sending riders out the back door. Moments, later Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) attacked and he was joined by KOM leader Richard Handley (ONE) and another rider. The trio managed to bridge the 49-second gap before they got to the top and Handley went straight on the attack in an attempt to win the KOM sprint. However, he was beaten by Haas who picked up maxium points.

 

Haas decided to keep going in a solo move while Calmejane gave chase but a 9-rider group got back together as they hit the third climb with a one-minute advantage. In the peloton, Sky had taken control with Fenn which was just the firs signal of their intentions.

 

Sky go on the attack

With 88km to go, the British team attacked hard in the crosswinds, with Fenn and Danny Van Poppel taking some huge turns. They made the peloton explode to pieces. Meanwhile, Chetout and Haller surged clear from the breakaway.

 

With 80km to go, the peloton slowed down a bit as Xabier Zandio took over the pace-setting for Sky who had brought everybody back apart from the front duo who were just 20 seconds ahead. Moments later, they upped the pace again with Zandio and Peter Kennaugh and the peloton again exploded, with race leader Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Van Poppel among the many riders to be sent out the back door. They quickly brought the break back while Voeckler had to make a big effort to rejoin the first group after having been caught out. From there, Sky continued to make the race hard but in the end they came up short against Voeckler.

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