‘I’m still shivering like crazy’

Jesper Asselman

Jesper Asselman claimed his first victory for three years on stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire

Dutch rider Jesper Asselman took the final sprint after being part of a long-range breakaway to win the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.

In cold and wet conditions he held off the fast-closing Filippo Fortin, while Britons Gabriel Cullaigh and Ethan Hayter came fifth and sixth.

Britain’s Jacob Hennessy won both intermediate sprints and the only climb of the day to earn the red King of the Mountains jersey for Friday.

Chris Froome finished back in the pack.

Competing for Team Ineos, in their first race since their official launch switch from Team Sky on Wednesday, the four-time Tour de France winner steered clear of trouble throughout the 111-mile stage.

However, the 33-year-old and his Ineos colleagues were subjected to jeers from anti-fracking protesters, who waved placards at their team bus before the stage got under way.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish continued his return from illness with a strong finish to claim eighth place.

The women’s race starts on Friday with Lizzie Deignan competing in Britain for the first time since giving birth to her daughter seven months ago.

The former British world champion finished seventh in last week’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege after 23rd in the Amstel Gold Race and 21st in La Fleche Wallone.

The men’s race finishes in Leeds on Sunday.

Lightning strikes twice

Briton Harry Tanfield won the sprint for the line in 2018 from what was left of a six-man breakaway.

And lightning struck twice as 29-year-old Asselman, one of four riders left from the initially six-strong group to escape in the first 10 miles of the stage, survived the peloton’s late charge to claim victory in 2019.

The peloton, which was controlled largely by Team Ineos, reeled in a gap of almost three minutes, but Asselman kept his nerve in a game of brinksmanship with Kevin Vermaerke, Daniel Bigham and Joe Nally on the final sprint.

His effort was almost derailed by the cold, and a blue and yellow Tour de Yorkshire flag, which was caught on his crossbars as he crossed the line just before being swallowed up by the main group.

“It’s the biggest victory of my career,” Asselman said. “Last year was a really tough year, I broke my ankle and I was almost the whole year off the bike.

“In the spring, with the classics, I already felt I was really strong but I didn’t feel like it was going my way, and I was a little frustrated. That this happened now – I still can’t believe it. It’s really awesome to start the second part of the season this way.

“It’s always an advantage to ride at the front in these types of conditions but it was so cold, I tried to put on an extra jacket but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t close the zipper and I’m still shivering like crazy.”

Stage one results

  1. Jesper Asselman (Ned/Roompot) 4hrs 05 mins 45 seconds
  2. Filippo Fortin (Ita/Cofidis) Same time
  3. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel/Vital concept)
  4. Boy van Poppel (Ned/Roompot)
  5. Gabriel Cullaigh (GB/Team Wiggins)
  6. Ethan Hayter (GB/Team Great Britain)
  7. Cyril Barthe (Fra/EBC)
  8. Mark Cavendish (GB/Dimension Data)
  9. Chris Lawless (GB/Team Ineos)
  10. Rick Zabel (Ger/Katusha Alpecin)

General classification after stage one

  1. Jesper Asselman (Ned/Roompot) 4hrs 05 mins 34 seconds
  2. Filippo Fortin (Ita/Cofidis) +5secs
  3. Jacob Hennessy (GB/Canyon DHB) Same time
  4. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel/Vital concept) +7secs
  5. Kevin Vermaerke (US/Hagens Berman) Same time

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/48139352

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