Magnus Cort Nielsen couldn’t even hear himself breathe, such was the noise that greeted his mesmeric finish to win stage two of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire.
But if the Dane thought that finale in Ilkley was loud, the Yorkshire Bank and Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries leader’s jersey holder hasn’t heard anything yet.
History was made as the Tour finished on a summit for the first time, the brutal second stage from Barnsley finishing atop the Cow & Calf hill some 149km later.
For Cort Nielsen that came with the honour of being the first across the line, the second surprise winner of the week following Harry Tanfield’s success on day one in Doncaster.
It brought with it the general classification lead as well as the stage win for the Astana rider, halfway through his Tour de Yorkshire experience, with Saturday’s third stage taking him from Richmond to Scarborough.
“It was a really hard day, a short one, but it was not easy in very hilly conditions, we knew there was going to be a sprint and the team supported me very well. I have to thank the boys for believing in me, they got me perfectly into the last climb, I just had to do the last 2km and I managed to do that so I’m very happy.
“I was counting down the kilometres and they were going down reasonably quickly, but the closer I got to the top I realised it was possible to win it and just in the limit of my abilities.
“Now I have to focus and see if I can defend the jersey, it won’t be easy but we will celebrate and prepare to achieve over the weekend.
“When I got inside the last 500m I thought this was possible, just told myself to wait for the sprint and when I got there, I knew I had the legs.
“The crowds are so big, I couldn’t hear myself breathe – I was pushing myself to the limit and they were great through the whole stage.”
Meanwhile, day one winner Tanfield had already lapped up his fair share of the limelight but couldn’t resist another step on to the podium in Ilkley. From a blue jersey on Thursday came a green one this time around, leading the points standings for the second day in succession – another one to add to the collection.
Yet even a day after his historic stage win – the first for a Yorkshireman in the event’s four years – the Great Ayton cyclist had other problems on his mind.
“It’ll be nice to have another jersey again, I haven’t got any green socks though. I got a good advantage on Thursday but I spent a lot of the race out of the race this time as I punctured early on. That was nails, I feel absolutely shattered.”
Yet more history was made, this time in the ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s race – celebrating a second stage for the first time. Kirsten Wild took first-day honours but the hilly climbs ensured she wasn’t in the running this time around, with the overall crown instead going to Megan Guarnier, on her 33rd birthday.
A well-timed attack gave her the perfect present – ably assisted by the work of her Boels Dolmans team, finishing 17 seconds ahead of her nearest rivals. It proved enough for her to take the Yorkshire Bank and Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries winner’s jersey – narrowly ahead of Great Britain Cycling Team’s Dani Rowe, who enjoyed another profitable day on the Yorkshire roads.
Also finishing atop the Cow & Calf, the perfect sprint did the damage 500m from the end for Guarnier – hoping this can be the springboard for what’s to come for the rest of the year having received wise words from a familiar face.
“It is a real honour to win this race and it’s my first victory of the year so I’m excited. I have never, ever seen so many people on a finishing climb and so many people cheering us on. That really helped bring me home because I was full gas at the end. Lizzie [Deignan, last year’s champion] took me through what I might expect in the last bits of the stage.”
Yorkshire Bank is an Official Partner of the Tour de Yorkshire and the ground-breaking Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries initiative. Visit www.ybonline.co.uk/tdy
Thanks to Ross Lawson, Sportsbeat