Nice one Cyril... you’re our King of the Dales

Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits,  the new holder of the polka dot King of the mountains  jersey after the second stage of Le Tour de France 2014 from York to Sheffield. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits, the new holder of the polka dot King of the mountains jersey after the second stage of Le Tour de France 2014 from York to Sheffield. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
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Marcel Kittel and Vincenzo Nibali may have taken the stage spoils, and Mark Cavendish the headlines, but the King of the Dales is an honour bestowed on a more unheralded member of the peloton.

Cyril Lemoine, a 31-year-old Frenchman riding for Cofidis, departed Yorkshire last night wrapped in the polka dot jersey that marks the leader in the mountains classification.

To those Yorkshire folk whose chests are still puffed out with pride this morning, that means he bested our toughest climbs – Cote de Blubberhouses, Cote d’Oxenhope Moor and Cote de Ripponden.

He took the jersey off Jens Voigt, the 42-year-old German who made his 197 rivals look like it was they who were battling ageing legs as he powered up Cote de Cray, Cote de Buttertubs and Cote de Grinton Moor 24 hours earlier.

Those climbs revert back to normality today, the only memory of the Tour de France being the fading chalk messages on the road, the emptying camp sites and the trampled down grass.

And Lemoine and Voigt move on with the all-consuming Tour circus from Cambridge to London today, before it heads back over the Channel onto the more traditional territories of mainland France tomorrow.

Race history will quickly consign their deeds into footnotes in the rich tapestry of the Tour de France.

By the time the 101st Tour wheels onto the Pyrenees and the Alps, our proud little bumps on the landscape will be nothing more than a fading memory.

But we won’t forget them so quickly – the sight of those first riders heading towards the summits of this great county’s most energy-sapping climbs.

Having stood for hours on the banks and natural ampitheatres of Yorkshire’s rolling fields, the vision of those first cyclists emerging from the haze below – their faces etched in determination, their teeth gritted – are the images that will last a lifetime.

Lemoine was the first up Blubberhouses, Ripponden and Cote de Greetland, while the race up Oxenhope was won by Perriq Quemeneur (Europcar) and the chase up Midhopestones claimed by Tom Jelle Slangster, with his Garmin-Sharp team-mate and yellow jersey contender, Andrew Talansky, in tow.

A snapshot into the intensity of the race up the mountains was provided on Holme Moss, that most iconic of climbs that had so enchanted cyclists and spectators in the build-up to Yorkshire’s moment in the global sporting spotlight.

Thomas Voeckler and Nicolas Edet were only chasing second place behind Biel Kadri, who had already pierced the narrow shoot between the enthusiastic crowds to claim victory, but such was the intensity of the race, the proximity of the spectators, it made for a thrilling scene.

On Saturday, Voigt’s experience stood him in good stead as he noticed the vast numbers of the crowd and how they were bursting at the seams at the side of the road.

Voigt said: “Since I have done this a few times now, I realised that with the small roads lined with stone walls on each side there was only space for three or four riders, so I was sure that you had to be at the very front. Wearing the polka dot jersey brings my career full circle.

“I had the mountain jersey the first year as a neo-pro, also because of a crazy breakaway in the first week, and now in my last Tour I have the mountains jersey again.

“I like that – it’s a good story.”

And with that, Voigt took his place in Yorkshire Tour de France lore.

By day two he was spent, and the man who reigned on our rolling hills was Lemoine who takes with him for ever the title of King of the Dales.