The Tour de Yorkshire drew to a close on Sunday after a second visit to Richmondshire.
Organisers say the race was the biggest and best one yet with 2.6 million fans lining the route over the four days.
No less than 900,000 roadside spectators witnessed a gripping conclusion on Sunday with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) wrapping up the overall victory after Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) had secured a sensational stage win.
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Before the cyclists made their way down Coverdale, on to Middleham and beyond, the riders had to negotiate the 25 per cent hairpins on the Park Rash above Kettlewell.
Hundreds of spectators lined the narrow road as the riders huffed and puffed their way to the top.
— Phil Jones MBE (@roadphil) May 6, 2018
As there had been on the previous day, there was a carnival atmosphere in Carlton and then Middleham as the riders and their entourage passed through.
The party continued into the evening with DJ Wilko on the decks in Middleham ensuring it was loud and lively.
Rossetto’s ride will go down in Yorkshire folklore after the Frenchman launched an audacious solo attack with 120km of the brutally tough ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ remaining, and the 31 year old evaded a vastly reduced peloton to seal the biggest stage win of his career and top the best climber classification sponsored by Virgin Trains in the process.
Not surprisingly, Rossetto was also awarded the grey most active rider jersey sponsored by Dimension Data.
Van Avermaet sprinted home 37 seconds behind Rossetto in second place to tie up the race leader’s blue jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, nine seconds ahead of Spaniard Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias). Last year’s race winner Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data) rounded out the podium, five seconds further adrift.
The bonus points Van Avermaet accrued on the line also saw him win the best sprinter classification sponsored by Asda.
Speaking at the end of the race, Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “I’m so proud of the last four days.
“It takes such a lot of work to make this race happen. All the highways teams and local authorities across Yorkshire worked so hard to make sure everything was ready and we’re hugely grateful to the emergency services as well.
“This race wouldn’t be what it is without our great partners, and of course, I like to say a massive thank you to all the male and female riders who came and produced such a gripping event. Greg Van Avermaet was a more than worthy winner and that gutsy ride from Stéphane Rossetto will live long in the memory.
“Finally, I have to mention the crowds as well. Once again, they were utterly unbelievable and it was like being back at the 2014 Tour de France. Every start and finish was absolutely rammed and there were so many high points along the route that I’ll need to take a few days to let it all sink in.”
2018 Tour de Yorkshire champion Greg Van Avermaet said: “I’m happy I could achieve the race win because it was certainly not easy today. The fans were amazing, and for the whole four days actually. I remember from the Tour de France, and when I last raced here in 2015, what it was like, and with this sunny weather even more fans came out. It was really special.
“The parcours was fantastic as well with a lot of variation over the four stages and this race definitely deserves its place on the calendar. I hope to come back and defend my title next year.”
During the race in Armley, Leeds there was a lucky escape for a marshal who had to jump out of the way of a support vehicle which wiped out the bollards on a traffic island he had been standing on.
— BBC Look North (Yks) (@BBCLookNorth) May 6, 2018
Brief Stage Results
1 Stéphane Rossetto (FRA) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 4:53:22
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team +34 sec
3 Ian Bibby (GBR) JLT Condor
4 Edward Dunbar (IRL) Aqua Blue Sport
5 Eduard Prades Reverter (SPA) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team 16:38:00
2 Eduard Prades Reverter (SPA) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias +9 sec
3 Serge Pauwels (BEL) Dimension Data +14 sec
4 Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) Katusha-Alpecin +19 sec
5 Michael Storer (AUS) Team Sunweb