Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) nabbed the biggest win of his pro career as he crossed the line a pedal stroke ahead of a pursuing bunch sprint to win the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Asselman finished ahead of Filippo Fortin (Cofidis) and Jonas van Genechten (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels) under rainy skies in the town of Selby. Asselman now leads the overall by five seconds, due to bonus seconds he earned midway through the stage.
The day featured a battle between pro continental teams and WorldTour squads, with six lower-division riders attacking into the daylong breakaway. Asselman was joined by American U23 rider Kevin Vermarcke (Hagens Berman Axeon), Daniel Bigham (Ribble Pro Cycling), Joseph Nally and Sean Flynn (both Great Britain National Team), James Fouche (Wiggins Lecol), and Jacob Hennssey (Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes).
The group attacked just 13km into the 182.5km stage. By the time the break crossed the first intermediate sprint — claimed by Hennessy — the peloton had 1:55 to make up.
WorldTour squads Team Ineos and Dimension Data drove the chase. Hennessy won the climber’s points atop Baggaby Hill, the day’s only climb. But Sean Flynn (Great Britain) was dropped by the front group as the gap grew to 2:20.
Hennessy won another bonus sprint before easing off and losing contact with the break, the climber’s jersey safely in his possession. The lead group was whittled down to four riders as the peloton gained ground. With 10 kilometers to the finish, the gap had diminished to just 40 seconds.
A bunch sprint seemed imminent, right up until the last kilometer when the gap dropped to just thirteen seconds. With the rest of the breakaway riders absorbed in the group, it was just Asselman who was out alone. He crossed the line just ahead of the thundering peloton.
Tour de Yorkshire Stage 1
- Jesper Asselman, Roompot-Charles 4:05:45
- Flippo Fortin, Cofidis
- Jonas Van Genechten, Vital Concept-B&B Hotels
- Boy Van Poppel, Roompot-Charles
- Gabriel Cullaigh, Wiggins Lecol
- Ethan Hayter, Great Britain
- Cyril Barthe, Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
- Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
- Chris Lawless, Team Ineos
- Rick Zabel, Katusha-Alpecin (all at s.t)