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Tour de Yorkshire riders appreciate taste of tough World Championship course

Tour de Yorkshire riders appreciate taste of tough World Championship course
© Reuters
Mark Cavendish said the course was 'probably too hard for me'.

The Tour de Yorkshire delivered its promised preview of September's World Championships on Friday and left riders with plenty to ponder.

Both the men's and women's races tackled the same 132 kilometre route between Barnsley and Bedale.

But for many, the focus was 14 of those kilometres as, midway through the day, they took on the Harrogate circuit which will serve as the finish of the World Championship races in September.

Friday gave riders their only chance to properly recce the course – including going the wrong way up a one-way road – before they return to battle for the rainbow bands, and it proved a useful experience.

"To be honest I've been doing it wrong in training so I'm glad I actually saw the proper course," 2015 world champion Lizzie Deignan said.

"Just the final couple of corners, I come at it from a different angle. God knows how. The main points I've been doing properly. It's a good circuit, I like it."

The route also got the thumbs-up from three-time former world champion Marianne Vos.

"I expect a beautiful race in September," the Boels-Dolmans rider said. "It's a typical Worlds course. There's no long climb but there's not much recovery and if you're in the back it's going to really stretch out."

The women will tackle the circuit three times in September at the end of their 150km race, while the men will do seven laps in a 285km contest.

On a recent visit Italian sprinter Elia Viviani, not competing in the Tour de Yorkshire, rode the route and declared the bridge where Pennypot Lane – between Beckwithshaw and Harrogate – crosses Oak Beck to be the key point.

The road dips down sharply, narrows where it bends across the bridge, before pitching back up.

It is a spot which has certainly caught Deignan's attention.

"If you've got bad position going into that steep descent and then up out the other side you're in trouble because there's a crosswind at the top," the Trek-Segafredo rider said.

2019 Tour de Yorkshire – Stage Two – Barnsley to Bedale
Mark Cavendish moved to the front as the race passed through Harrogate (Martin Rickett/PA)

Mark Cavendish was able to enjoy his lap of his mother's hometown, riding to the front of the peloton and waving to the crowd as he tried to spot his family amongst them, but the circuit itself confirmed the Team Dimension Data rider's worst fears after a winter training camp.

"That's a hard circuit," the 2011 world champion said. "It's probably too hard for me to be fair. When I rode it in the winter I thought, 'It's too hard for me'.

"I was hoping Yorkshire would change my thoughts but it hasn't. It's probably a bit hard for me."

Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet liked what he saw, though.

"I think this will be one of the best courses for me that we have had in recent years," the Belgian said. "It's quite a hard circuit, quite demanding for the legs I think.

"You have to sprint out of the corners and after almost every corner there's an uphill which makes it really hard."

Neither Deignan nor Cavendish had the legs to challenge for victory on the day either.

Cavendish sat up short of the line as Katusha-Alpecin's Rick Zabel won stage two of the men's race while Deignan finished in the bunch of a women's stage one won by emerging young sprinter Lorena Wiebes of Parkhotel-Valkenburg.

Deignan, the 2015 world champion, only returned to racing last month following the birth of daughter Orla in September.

She took to the line in Barnsley in optimistic mood after finishing seventh in Liege-Bastogne-Liege last week, but found the legs were not there for her on Friday.

"Actually I struggled today," the Otley-born rider said. "I felt better in Liege last week.

"Hopefully tomorrow I'll come round. At the moment for me it's all about getting those races in getting my race rhythm.

"The head (is still there), definitely. I'm still so eager to get going and I'm finding it boring I can't attack like I used to. But that will come back a couple of races down the line."

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