Another five or so hours of precious sleep and I woke up to pouring rain. My phone told me it would be like this all day. Stupid phone.
The start, in Wakefield, was an hour later than the two previous days, which was useful. And the rain mostly stopped as we drove there, also useful. It was the most organised we had been all weekend, plenty of time to get a coffee, walk around the buses, see the sign-on and the start before shooting off.
Of course getting away from the town was a living hell. Every road heading out to where we wanted to go was closed, even though the race was taking a different route. For ten minutes we negotiated with a group of marshals, who had cordoned off a 50m piece of road for whatever reason.
Eventually they relented, and we realised that the situation could’ve been solved by just asking straight up for the cones to be moved. Anyway, off we sped, re-joining the route before the first climb of the day at Holmfirth.
There were more marshals there, mostly helpful, some not so much. Raoul got an ice cream, on scoop, vanilla. It wasn’t very good apparently. Some lady shouted “idiots” as we drove off after failing to park on the Côte de Holmfirth. Off to the Côte de Scapegoat Hill then.
At the top there were lots of dogs (see below), and the climb was packed. That’s about all I remember about Scapegoat Hill. It was cloudy too, and a couple of Europcar soigneurs waited at the top. They didn’t manage to hand over any bottles.
Dogs of the Tour de Yorkshire
Escaping from Scapegoat – Raoul directed traffic, Daniel banged the car door, I tried to charge my phone – this thing isn’t great in a moving vehicle. The radio played this awful song. Everyone hated the radio.
The ride to the Côte de Goose Eye was another fast one, on the single-lane roads and through the small villages that we had become used to seeing. “This is some James Bond shit!” exclaimed Daniel as we crested a hill, airborne again. It’s probably as close to a WRC ride-along as you could find, with Raoul dictating directions like a co-driver, a Timo Rautiainen to Daniel’s Marcus Grönholm.
Question of the day, from Daniel
“Where are Wallace and Gromit from? Here?”
I was unsure myself, but apparently they live in Wigan (in Lancashire), some sixty miles from Wakefield.
Once again we made a mess of getting to the climb. The shortcut to the route saw a marshal open the road in the wrong direction. Thankfully a police outrider arrived soon after, pointing out the mistake. Spectators watched on as we executed another three-point turn on a tiny village street.
A couple of unclassified climbs later (“If this isn’t a côte then maybe it’s a vest”) and we arrived at Goose Eye.
It was steep at the bottom and the village was full of people. A million people came out to see the race apparently, so that’s cool. The top of the climb was less steep and there were far fewer people. We parked midway up the 2.2km climb – another awkward reversing manoeuvre into a crowd of people unwilling to budge. I walked up, Daniel headed back down.
ON GOOSE EYE
The sun came out, and it was properly warm for the first time all weekend. This random hill in the middle of nowhere also let my phone pick up 3G for the first time, which was nice.
Turns out Nicolas Edet and Lawson Craddock were the Cofidis and Giant-Alpecin men leading the remnants of the breakaway, while the Sky-led peloton was in pieces behind.
I faced a kilometre run downhill to the car but thankfully our way out was to follow the race rather than push through the crowds in the other direction. Running down the grass verge, just about avoiding the cars passing in the other direction, I spotted our grey Corsa and jumped in. Destination, Leeds.
Parking Spots of the Tour de yorkshire
As the race continued north and then east to Leeds, we headed to Bradford ring road and the interminable red traffic lights on the way to the finish. Again, with no real idea of when the riders would actually get to the finish (somewhere between 16:30 and 17:00 according to the roadbook), it looked a real possibility that we’d miss out.
Luckily for us, suburban Bradford seemed to melt into suburban Leeds. We seemed to have made it without really knowing how close we were at any point. Despite our worry, we got onto the course with five kilometres to go, with the convoy nowhere in sight.
After parking there was another marshal confrontation as we were shouted at to get off the road to the car park as if we had no idea the race was coming.
AT THE FINISH
A rush to the finish in Roundhay Park and BMC’s Ben Hermans was the solo winner. There was disappointment for those who had hoped for more GC action on the toughest stage of the race, with the main favourites rolling in together.
After the finish, riders milled about, providing more photo opportunities. And then that was it. The end of the first Tour de Yorkshire. It was pretty fun.