The 23-year-old Commonwealth Games silver medallist set off from Beverley hoping to win one jersey and finished with three of the four on offer as an 180km, all-day breakaway thwarted what was predicted to be a bunch sprint.
Tour de France legend Mark Cavendish was among the riders left frustrated as Tanfield led home a group of five riders in Doncaster, five seconds ahead of a rapidly-closing pack.
Tanfield had set out with the intention of winning the combativity prize as the day’s most aggressive rider. He duly claimed that plus the blue jersey as overall leader and green for the sprints classification.
Reflecting on his shock triumph, Tanfield said: “My goal was to get into the breakaway. When it got to inside the last two kilometres and we couldn’t see the peloton I thought, ‘we’ve got this.
“From that point onwards you are tired, but the pain in your legs goes away because you know you can make it. I was encouraging everyone, shouting, ‘come on guys, we can do it’ and that encouragement makes everyone give that bit extra.
“We had it comfortably in the end, it wasn’t that close. The line could have been 500m up the road and we might still have got it. We pulled the wool over the sprinters’ eyes. It was pretty mega.”
The largely flat stage was expected to be decided in a bunch finish, but the sprinters got their timing wrong.
Rotherham’s Ben Swift, who finished 45th, admitted the breakaway deserved to hold on.
“It should have been [a sprinter’s finish], but when you look at it there were strong guys up there so full credit to them,” he said. “I don’t know if there was panic, maybe we underestimated the strength of the break.”