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Tour de Yorkshire: Holmfirth’s Scott fades away but another day of Tour upsets

Magnus Cort Nielsen, Astana, winner of stage 2.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Magnus Cort Nielsen, Astana, winner of stage 2. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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It is rapidly becoming a Tour de Yorkshire of upsets.

Thursday was supposed to be all about Mark Cavendish claiming a sprint victory into Doncaster. Instead a young upstart from Great Ayton, Harry Tanfield, led a breakaway right to the very end.

Yesterday up the Cow and Calf to the first summit finish in Tour de Yorkshire men’s history, Olympic road race champion Greg van Avermaet and defending champion Serge Pauwels launched attack after counter-attack before they were beaten in the closing wheel turns.

Denmark’s Magnus Cort Nielsen, riding for the Astana World Tour team, launched his thrust to perfection to cross the line first in the sunshine on the hillside overlooking Ilkley.

His presence on a podium is not new; he is a previous winner of stages of the La Vuelta a Espana and a runner-up at the Ride London Classic, but his victory continues the trend of the favourites being vanquished here in the White Rose county.

“I was looking at Van Avermaet all day and thinking he was the guy to beat,” said Cort Nielsen.

“I was lucky that nobody tried any attacks on the climb and we rode a solid, stable tempo that suited me really well.

“Then I was there for the sprint. When I can see the line like that I was the fastest guy out of the seven or eight guys that were left.

“It is the perfect day. I couldn’t wish for any more.”

There was almost another Yorkshire fairytale to trump that of Tanfield’s 24 hours earlier, as a day of drama unfolded.

After Rotherham’s Ben Swift took an intermediate sprint victory and the breakaway was inadvertently and momentarily diverted off course by the lead car, another home rider risked all for glory.

This time it was Jacob Scott, 22, from Holmfirth, racing for British UCI team OnePro Cycling who some 7km from home and 5km from the foot of the Cow and Calf summit, sped off the front of the bunch.

“I just wanted to make it as hard as possible for the others,” said Scott, whose raid lasted for more than 4km.

“It was about stretching the race but you never know what can happen. There was no risk of failure for me.”

Four years earlier Scott was one of the thousands who stood in awe on Holme Moss watching the Tour de France in his home county.

He twinned that with a maiden season on the Under-23s circuit and after three years on the continent is forging a career for himself with OnePro, a promising future that he gave a huge shot in the arm to yesterday.

“I don’t think you can let these guys phase you,” he said of racing the Van Avermaet’s and Cavendish’s of the cycling peloton.

They all go again today from Richmond to Scarborough, a 181km sprint stage in which Cavendish will again be the focus of attention.

But it is Cort Nielsen in the leader’s blue jersey, while Tanfield retains the green jersey for points leader. “Today was really hard,” said Tanfield. “I spent a lot of the race out of it after puncturing. I feel shattered, but it’s nice to be in green – even if I don’t have any green socks.”