Bedale was packed to the rafters to see Rick Zabel claim a stunning sprint victory on a hugely successful second day at the Tour de Yorkshire.
Huge crowds had also gathered in Barnsley to see the peloton roll out at the start of the stage, and they didn’t relent on the picturesque 132km course that wound its way north through the county.
According to police, 340,000 people witnessed both the men and women in action, with Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valekenburg) having taken the spoils on the opening stage of the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race earlier in the day.
Six riders formed the breakaway in the men’s race, and from those it was Jake Scott (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) who was voted the most active rider in a live Twitter poll at @letouryorkshire.
As a result, he will wear the grey jersey sponsored by Dimension Data on Saturday. Despite their best efforts, those riders couldn’t repeat the great escape which saw Jesper Asselman (Roompot – Charles) seal a dramatic triumph on stage one, and it was the sprint specialists who worked their way into contention on the fast approach into Bedale.
By the time they reached Market Place the pace had ramped up even further and it was Rick Zabel who hit top speed and romped to victory in front of some unbelievable Yorkshire support. The win was his first since 2015 and one which will live long in the memory.
Despite that triumph Zabel couldn’t knock Asselman off the top of the overall standings and Asselman will wear the blue jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank once again on Saturday’s stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.
Jacob Hennessy (Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes) also defended his best climber’s jersey sponsored by LNER, while Boy Van Poppel (Roompot – Charles) moved into the best overall sprinter’s jersey sponsored by Asda on account of his second consecutive top-five finish.
After the stage Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd said:
“We saw two identical stages for the men and women today and they both received unbelievable receptions. The passion in Barnsley from everybody who gathered to greet the riders was phenomenal and all the shops were decorated and doing a roaring trade.
“That reception was the same through every place we passed, and Bedale must take great credit as well for the welcome they laid on – the noise and sheer number of smiling faces was incredible. Thousands of people had been there all day and they were treated to some fantastic cycling.
“The amount of land art we’ve seen so far this year also deserves a mention. Every year we think ‘how can it be topped?’ but then it seems to get larger and the people who produce it are becoming even more creative.
“It was truly heart-warming to see. This event is more than just a bike race for the communities we visit and we’re all immensely proud of that.”
Stage winner Erik Zabel said:
“It was emotional for me to win today because it has been almost four years and tears came to my eyes. It was super nice because I am normally a lead-out man and this victory gives me the belief I can win at this high level.
“I really enjoyed today. It was special to ride the circuit in Harrogate as well. It’s going to be a beautiful parcours for the World Championships, and while it will be great for the fans to watch, it’ll be hard for the riders.
“We’re all looking forward to it though because we know it’ll be an amazing race in September.”
Race leader Jesper Asselman said:
“It was a tough stage, especially on the World Championships circuit, and my team had a good day because we defended the blue jersey and also got Boy [Van Poppel] in the green one.
“Hopefully the next few days will be equally good but it gets a lot harder from now on with a lot of steep climbs and I hope I can stay up there.”
- Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 3:09:16
- Boy van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles
- Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Ineos
- Andrew Tennant (GBr) Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes
- Daniel McLay (GBr) Great Britain National Team
General Classification after stage two
- Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles 7:14:50
- Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:01
- Boy van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles 0:00:05
- Filippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
- Jacob Hennessy (GBr) Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes
Full results and information on the Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race can be found at letouryorkshire.com