DUTCHMAN Moreno Hofland won stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire in York on Saturday as Team Sky’s Lars Petter Nordhaug maintained the overall lead.
Hofland gave the LottoNL-Jumbo team their first victory of the season as he edged out IAM Cycling’s Matteo Pelucchi on the final stretch in the shadow of York racecourse.
Norwegian rider Nordhaug, winner of stage one in Scarborough on Friday finished safely in the front group and leads by 10 seconds from Spain’s 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.
On the day that Alex Dowsett made his task of breaking the Hour Record next month even harder, Sir Bradley Wiggins finished in the second pack, six seconds behind the leaders, although Wiggins remains more than 15 minutes off the overall lead.
Saturday’s stage was a 174km run from Selby to York which saw the riders set out east to Beverley and up to Malton before heading back to complete three laps of a circuit around York, with the streets again lined by thousands of fans.
Eight riders had gone off the front early on, including Lancastrian Mark McNally of Madison Genesis and Wolverhampton’s Andy Tennent, riding for Team Wiggins.
They built a lead of more than six minutes on the ride to Beverley but it began to tick down once they made the turn westwards after Norton and as they reached York the group began to splinter, with McNally left out in front with Belgian Bert De Backer (Giant Alpecin).
De Backer had been expecting to ride for his team-mate Marcel Kittel here, but the German sprinter withdrew on stage one, robbing the race of the clear favourite for this stage.
De Backer sought to go it alone inside the final six kilometres but was soon caught, as was BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet, among the pre-race favourites for the general classification before losing more than a minute on the opening stage.
However, they all came back together at the finish and it was Hofland who triumphed in the sprint.
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