The finest rider of her generation, three-time world road race champion Marianne Vos now has the ASDA Women’s Tur de Yorkshire on her glittering palmares.
The 31-year-old Dutch legend sprinted to a brilliant victory on the seafront in Scarborough after two days of intense racing in the toughest conditions seen in the race’s five-year history.
There was delight also for Otley’s Lizzie Deignan whose aggressive riding ignited the decisive 132km stage from Bridlington and earned her the grey jersey for the day’s most active rider, which is decided by an online vote.
Vos proved the strongest, most astute rider on a a cold, wind-swept and wet day which featured four categorised climbs and a diversion around the early Cote de Silpho following an oil spill on the road.
Reigning world champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels–Dolmans) made the first significant move when she attacked on the descent into Robin Hood’s Bay with 73kms to ride.
Deignan led the chasers and once van der Breggen had been reeled in, Mavi Garcia (Movistar) attacked and was joined over the top of the day’s final categorised climb, Cote de Ugglebarnby, by Vos and Soraya Paladin (Ale Cipollini).
They rode together on to the finishing straight and though Garcia was first to attack, Vos’s experience and power took her ahead and into the winner’s blue jersey, with Paladin taking third on the stage and overall.
It was a significant win for the CCC-Liv ace who will be back in Yorkshire in September when she attempts to win yet another rainbow jersey as world champion.
The circuit in Harrogate which will be used for the worlds featured in the women’s stage one and Vos described it as a “nice course”.
She said: “I like it very much and it is good to see it in a race because then you really feel how it is.”
Of Saturday’s stage, Vos reflected: “It was a crazy day, there were a lot of climbs and many attacks.
“We had to endure a lot and I actually don’t know how I ended up in the front in the end.
“I was trying to go with the good moves and when I went with Paladin to the leader Garcia we knew that we had a chance if we just kept going.
“It’s a great win.”
It was Deignan’s first ride in Great Britain since giving birth to daughter Orla last September and her spirited performance suggests she is still a force to be reckoned with.
Wrapped in a blanket and visibly shivering at the finish line, she admitted: “I was on the limit physically and I wasn’t making the most intelligent decisions, but I had a good race.
“My progression has been really good and I am really happy with the team.
“The main point for me is that, at the pinch points, on the climbs where it really mattered, I was able to follow the best in the world.
“I know I have still got a lot of improvements to make, but I am happy with my personal progress.”
Deignan, who finished 29th in the general classification, paid tribute to the race’s “phenomenal” winner, adding: “She was with me in the breakaway and probably was a lot smarter than I was. Congrats’ to her.”
Deignan won the then one-day Women’s Tour de Yorkshire two years ago and the appalling conditions did not dampen her enthusiasm.
She said: “The whole women’s peloton is incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received.
“It has been a real top-class race.”
Deignan’s next major competition in Yorkshire will be the worlds.
Having experienced that circuit on Friday she said: “I like the course.
“It is a real racer’s course. I think it will lead to aggressive racing and that suits me normally so I am pleased with it.”
It was also an outstanding race for Sheffield-based Lizzie Banks (Bigla) who finished ninth overall, one place behind leading British rider Hannah Barnes (Canyon–SRAM).
An exhausted Banks described herself as a “dead fish” after a draining twio days.
Reflecting on the race, she said: “I was hoping to ride well here, but I didn’t know I would be the leader,” said the Bigla Pro Cycling rider who went into the final stage wearing the red Queen of the Mountains jersey.
“Our sprinter is out with a knee injury and our climber wasn’t feeling well so I got the go ahead and I just gave it everything I had.”
Abby Mae-Parkinson (Drops), from Bradford, was 36th overall and Saltburn’s Rebecca Durrell (On Form) finished 42nd.