Tour de Yorkshire in all its awesomeness **SPOILER ALERT**
Thomas Voeckler metaphorically stole Nico Roche’s thunder on the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire 2016. Roche momentarily defaulted to his Team Sky training and took a moment to stare at his stem while the floppy tongued Frenchman wound up the turbos. In a split second the more powerful Roche had been mugged off by the French housewives favourite. All this took place as David Millar waxed lyrical about Voecklers cunning. The cycling equivalent of a Marmite salesman narrating an instructional video about Twiglets. Not everyone’s cup of tea – but I loved it.
Forget about the TV issues of stage 2 and the disappointment of not being able to see Lizzies breakaway in the Women’s race. The 2016 Tour de Yorkshire was worth all the hype for the sheer pleasure of watching top draw bike racing on our roads. I’ve long thought that the world of cycling has been missing out on the sheer brutality of our climbs, weather and the beauty of our scenery. I Twittered and Facebooked at the time of watching that I thought that given time the Tour de Yorkshire could become the spiritual end to the Ardennes Week, marking the end of the Spring Classics season when the real hard men of cycling come out to play.
This got me thinking - was this the best race I’d seen this year so far? Personally I can give or take a sprint finish. I prefer a race where the winner is the last man standing, a race lost out the back with only the strongest reaching the finish in a select group whittled down by an evil parcours. The spring monument classics come with history. I cannot bring myself to compare the Tour de Yorkshire with any of these. Just writing that last sentence has earned me 20 lashes with an old inner tube. However stage 3 over the North York Moors was Ardenne-esq. It was raced like a sepia tinged Liege-Bastogne-Liege of old. It was one of the best days of racing this year – FACT.
Lets look at the spring season in detail:
Milan-San Remo – A long softening up session before an exciting sprint finish
Tour of Flanders – Undeniably the best race of the year.
Paris-Roubaix - Undeniably the best race of the year.
Amstel Gold – Its got a bit boring of late hasn’t it.
Fleche – A race to the Mur de Huy and then Alejandro Valverde wins.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege – The old lady needs a new hip I think.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but stage 3 was in the top three races of this year. What about Strade Bianche I hear you say! That was an awesome race. It was. It was also only a sportive 11 years ago. Strade Bianche is a case study in the fact that if you get the parcours right and the position in the year fits then a race can quickly become a favourite.
Team Sky animated that race brilliantly which is to their credit. We cannot kid ourselves however that the field was truly all the big boys out to play though. How unbelievably awesome would it be to see a full World Tour field with the best of British racing on our awesome roads with our awesome spectators, awesome and devilish weather, all washed down by our awesome beer. That would be awesome and I don’t care that I sound a bit American. It would be awe-inspiring, I would be awestruck and thus it would be awesome!
I’m proposing that whatever the weather, whatever else is going on in our lives we do this all again next year. The world will begin to realise how awesome Yorkshire cycling is and all will be well. Maybe by the time my Wetherby Wheelers bib shorts have finally faded and have got replaced we will all be celebrating the end of Ardennes Week in our outpost of awesomeness.