The Road to Yorkshire - May
May is an interesting month within the UCI cycling calendar but perhaps delivers fewer indications of who’s hitting form for one day races as we move away from the Classics and into stage races. The change obviously results in teams changing tactics as some hunt individual stage victories whilst others look to secure the general classification instead. Also, smaller teams look to put their sponsors in the spotlight by featuring heavily in breakaways and trying to sweep up mountain classification points along the way too.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a plethora of eye-raising individual performances. So with this month’s feature we look at some of the riders who have stood out during the month of May and we’ve started with a race that happens in God’s Own County itself, the Tour de Yorkshire and the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race.
In the Tour de Yorkshire, Greg Van Avermaet continued to show that he is very much suited to the roads of Yorkshire, with second overall in the General Classification, but more importantly sealing victory on the tough terrain of Stage 4 into Leeds. Having won the title in 2018, secured a top 10 finish in 2015, come second in Sheffield when the Tour de France went there in 2014 and with a 2019 World Championship course that suits his style, it would be foolish to make Van Avermaet anything other than one of the strong favourites for September.
In the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race, there was one name that dominated the headlines and that was Dutch cycling royalty, Marianne Vos. Competing in the race for the first time, Vos faced a super strong field that included reigning World Road and Time Trial Champions Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, plus former World Champion Lizzie Deignan, Vos showed that she is back to her near-peerless best with an authoritative performance on Stage 2 of the race. In truly brutal conditions, Vos showed that she had unmatched power on the Scarborough seafront and if she can continue this form into the latter part of the year she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
In Yorkshire, Anna van der Breggen tried an attack from far out on Stage 2 that didn’t stick, but May was far from fruitless for the Dutchwoman as she was crowned the champion of the Tour of California Women’s Race. Van der Breggen showed her dominance throughout the race, winning Stage 1 by breaking clear near the finish to secure the win. On Stage 2, van der Breggen attacked up Mt Baldy with her teammate Katie Hall to secure a Boels Dolmans 1-2 on the day and she gained enough time across these two days that she only needed to finish in the bunch on the final day to win the overall title, which she did with ease.
Staying stateside, Peter Sagan showed a few glimpses in the Tour of California that he is starting to get back to his best with a powerful stage victory. Sagan found himself teammate-less with 300m to go but managed to hang onto the back of INEOS rider Owain Doull’s wheel before opening up his own sprint from quite far out, maintaining enough strength and speed to hold off the challenge of his closest rivals to seal the win.
20-year-old sprint sensation Lorena Wiebes had a May to write home about as she bagged Stage 1 of the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race into Bedale before heading to the three-day Tour of Chongming Island where she won all three stages picking up the GC, points and youth classifications along the route. With the climbs in the women’s Road Race in Yorkshire coming fairly early on in the stage, Wiebes might feel that if she can keep contact with the leaders through the hills, she could be more than a match for anyone in a sprint finish.
Finally, the biggest race for the Men’s World Tour in May has without doubt been the Giro d’Italia. The three-week Grand Tour has brought about some hugely exciting and dramatic days of racing consisting of sprint finishes, brave mountain victories and incredible breakaway performances as it heads towards its thrilling conclusion this weekend.
The two individual time trials have both been won by Primoz Roglic. On the short but steep 8km Stage 1 to Madonna di San Luca, Roglic showed his skill and technique to beat closest rival Simon Yates by 19 seconds. On the 34.8km Stage 9, Roglic displayed how well he could measure his effort on a stage that pretty much went only one way – up. Only one competitor, time trial specialist Victor Campenaerts, could get within a minute of the Slovenian’s time, such was his superiority. Roglic will certainly be in the mix in Yorkshire come the World Championships.
In terms of sprints, there’s been lots of talent on show in Italy, with wins from Ackermann, Demare and Gavaria, but perhaps the best sprinting performances were those by Australian pocket rocket Caleb Ewan. On Stage 8, Ewan stormed to victory, following and then coming around Ackermann and Viviani to win the second Giro stage of his career. This was quickly followed by another victory on Stage 11 when he again came around Ackermann and held off the sprint of Demare on the long straight finish into Novi Ligure.
Finally, here’s a few British riders who have shown class and talent in May.
Chris Lawless – Lawless won the Tour de Yorkshire general classification following results of 12th, 7th, 2nd and 2nd across the four stages. On a final day, that many forecast would be too tough for the Wigan man, Lawless held on, even after being briefly dropped on Otley Chevin, to secure second on the day and his first Stage Race title.
Elizabeth Banks – Banks proved that there’s more than just one Yorkshire Lizzie worth keeping an eye on as the Sheffield-born rider displayed impressive attacking instincts in the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race. The Bigla rider continually lit up the race, won the Mountains jersey on day one and then secured a top 10 finish overall against a hugely talented field.
Hugh Carthy – Carthy has been one of the unsung stars of the Giro D’Italia. The 24-year-old from Preston has regularly stuck with the most decorated riders in the race, is sat in the top 15 heading into the final weekend, and has continued to impress with classy and explosive riding. If selected for GB, he’ll be a key asset for the team come September.