FRENCHMAN Nacer Bouhanni won Saturday’s second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, but it was also a great day for local hero Harry Tanfield.
Tanfield, from Great Ayton in North Yorkshire, was voted most aggressive rider after spending much of the stage in a four-man breakaway.
The group, which formed early in the 122.5km stage from Tadcaster to Harrogate, also included Doncaster’s Conor Swift and James Gallen, from Kippax, near Leeds, along with Spaniard Sebastian Mora Verdri.
They were caught with around 21km to go and Tanfield finished 116th, four minutes 34 seconds down.
Tanfield, of the Bike Channel Canyon team, said: “I rode the race two years ago and I got a top-10 on stage two into York, so stage two has been good for me.
“It was a good, hard day out. The stage was pretty local for me and my parents came to watch.
“The crowds were mental, I was hearing people shouting my name all the way round. I tried to hang in there once we got caught, but my legs were cooked and I was just going backwards.”
Tanfield - who was in the crowd when the Tour de France’s opening stage finished in Harrogate three years ago - admitted he was disappointed with his performance on stage one from Bridlington to Scarborough, when he was 93rd, but that proved a blessing in disguise.
There was a huge crash in the final few metres and Tanfield said: “I was riding pretty well, top-10, top-20 for the full time pretty much, but I ran out of legs on the last climb and didn’t make the cut over the top by about 30 seconds.
“I ended up in a little group at the back with the domestiques who had been riding on the front all day.
“But if I was in the front group I would have been in the sprint and chances are I’d have been on the floor.
“I am glad I missed all the commotion at the finish. When we came in there were bodies everywhere.”
Meanwhile, Australian Caleb Ewan - of Orica-Scott - took over as race leader after following Bouhanni over the line.
He had also been runner-up on stage one and now leads by two seconds from Bouhanni with previous blue jersey wearer Dylan Groenewegen third, also at two seconds.
Bouhanni, who rides for Cofidis, was delighted with the stage win. He said: “I had good legs yesterday too, but it was more tactical and I had to launch my sprint from too far out.
“Today the sprint was just about having the legs. It was quite a difficult stage, quite hilly, but in the finale, I was always well placed in first 15 positions.
“I made my big effort with around 350-400 metres to go when I saw Jonathan Hivert had attacked. I reacted behind and got back up to him, and then I won.
“I had to launch my sprint early. I went from a long, long way and from there I had the resistance to hold them off.
“Uphill finishes like that are generally pretty good for me.”
Of the huge crowds, he added: “I didn’t expect so many on the roadside, it’s a bit like being at the Tour de France. It’s my first time here, a lot of spectators.”
Ewan admitted he does not expect to still be at the top of the general classification when the race finishes in Sheffield on Sunday.
He said: “It is disappointing, two seconds in a row. I have been feeling pretty good so it would have been nice to finish it off.
“Tomorrow’s a tough day and I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could keep the jersey.”
Ewan also leads the points classification with Etienne Van Empel (RNL) the leading climber.