Tour de Yorkshire - Near miss at Tour de France keeps enticing Greg Van Avermaet back

Greg Van Avermaet’s desire to keep returning year on year to race in Yorkshire, stems from a first visit to the county that still inspires him today.

Greg Van Avermaet: All smiles on the startline in Barnsley ahead of the second stage. (Picture: Chris Etchells)

Before the Belgian was an Olympic champion, a Tour de Yorkshire overall winner and a stage victor, he was a runner-up into Sheffield on the second stage of the 2014 Tour de France.

Twenty-seven at the time, and just before his peak, Van Avermaet sped off the peloton in pursuit of Vincenzo Nibali as the Tour de France wound through the industrial heartland of the Steel City 
towards a conclusion in Attercliffe.

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It was an occasion that sold Van Avermaet on the allure of cycling in Yorkshire, and a narrow defeat that has served as motivation ever since.

“I always remember nearly winning my first stage into Sheffield and how close I was to putting that yellow jersey on for the first time,” said Van Avermaet, following his Tour de Yorkshire victory into Leeds on Sunday. “That inspires me to come back.

“I like the people around here, the race is very well organised.

“If you see the crowds, even in the bad weather, they really appreciate what we are doing.”

And he will be back here again in September for the UCI Road World Championships, emboldened by his wins in the White Rose county and the experience of riding the world championship loop in Harrogate that formed part of the second stage of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire.

Greg Van Avermaet heads the peloton at the foot of Cote de Chevin at Otley on the last day, stage 4 of the Tour de Yorkshire. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

“The world championships is a different race,” said the 2016 Rio gold medallist, “but it’s always good to come back to a place where you’ve won something before.”