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Tour de Yorkshire 2019: Riders to watch

Joe Robinson
1 May 2019

Seven riders to watch at the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire

In just five years, the Tour de Yorkshire has proven itself to bea one of the toughest and most exciting stage races in the calendar. Using the hilly Yorkshire Moors and Dales as its canvas, the four-day men's and two-day women's races tour some of the UK's toughest terrain and most spectacular scenery.

This year will also have extra spice on Friday as both the men's and women's pelotons take a detour to the city of Harrogate to sample the 15km finishing loop of the UCI World Championships road race this September.

With this preview, Yorkshire has managed to attract some of the best riders across both pelotons who not only want to sample the rainbow route but also try some of Yorkshire's world-famous puddings too.

Below, Cyclist looks at some of the riders you should keep an eye on over the next four days of racing.

Chris Froome (Team Ineos)

Form: 7/10
Team: 8/10
Chances of overall victory: 7/10

The takeover of Team Ineos, and its subsequent launch at the Tour de Yorkshire, means that the most decorated Grand Tour rider in the current peloton will make his first-ever appearance at Britain's marquee stage race.

Froome would have been hoping for a warm welcome, however it looks as if he could be set to receive a frosty reception, similar to what he receives in France every July, albeit much more peaceful and respectful.

That's because Froome's new bosses happen to be Europe's largest petrochemical company who hold almost exclusive rights to frack for shale gas across Yorkshire.

Anti-fracking groups have already expressed their intention to protest along the course against Ineos and its team, the same team that just 11 months ago were campaigning for the end of single-use plastic production.

Froome, who recently admitted he did not know enough to say whether the world was in environmental danger, will be trying his best to focus on the racing. 

After acting as super-domestique to Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart at the recent Tour of the Alps, he showed he is slowly working his way into form although far from the usual world-beating level that he usually brings to Grand Tours.

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)

Form: 7/10
Team: 6/10
Chances of stage victory: 7/10

It was a pleasant surprise seeing Mark Cavendish back on a race podium at the recent Tour of Turkey. After almost two years of battling with illness, at points it looked as if we had seen the best of the Manx sprinter but that glimmer of his former self on Stage 3 showed enough hope for us to consider him a contender again.

The lack of any top-level sprint competition in Yorkshire should work into Cavendish's favour as the first two stages look geared towards a bunch finish considering the flat parcours.

With the added motivation of Yorkshire being his mother's home county, the 33-year-old should be able to take a first victory since February 2018.

Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team)

Form: 7/10
Team: 8/10
Chances of overall victory: 8/10

The Belgian Classics specialist looks to defend his Tour de Yorkshire crown off the back of an underwhelming spring campaign that returned just one top-10 finish across the opening four Monuments of the year.

Unlike years previous, Van Avermaet was unable to boss races. Instead of grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and going on the attack, he seemed resigned to following the wheels and letting others dictate the speed and flow of racing.

He will now be hoping to press the reset button in Yorkshire in order to get back to his usual swashbuckling self.

Expect Van Avermaet to be most prominent in the latter two stages as the race covers no fewer than 10 short and punchy categorised climbs, terrain perfectly suited to the Olympic champion.

Tom Pidcock (Team Wiggins Le Col)

Form: 7/10
Team: 6/10
Chances of overall victory: 7/10

Nothing quite beats racing on home roads in front of your home crowds. Stage 4 finishes in Tom Pidcock's hometown of Leeds, and after four days of punchy racing, the 19-year-old could be in contention for an overall win.

He has a good team, including young British talents Rob Scott and Gabriel Cullagh, but they may struggle with the firepower of the WorldTour squads present.

If Pidcock is to finish the week with a good overall result, he may need to take the race on himself, perhaps attempting to break the peloton into small groups on the short yet sharp 132km of Stage 3 from Bridlington to Scarborough.

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo)

Form: 7/10
Team: 7/10
Chances of overall victory: 7/10

Until 21st April, Lizzie Deignan was technically still on maternity leave. Nine days later and she has already finished seventh at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, 23rd at Fleche Wallonne and 19th at Amstel Gold.

Let's be frank, Deignan is not easing her way back into pro bike racing. She has already hit the ground at full speed with her eyes firmly on that rainbow prize, up for grabs in her home county of Yorkshire later this year.

So with Stage 1 taking a detour to the Harrogate finishing circuit of this year's Worlds, expect Deignan to be extremely active in front of her home fans and challenging for the win.

Annmeiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott)

Form: 9/10
Team: 9/10
Chances of overall victory: 9.5/10

The best women's road rider in the world right now is Annemiek van Vleuten. She has raced seven times this year, taking two victories (Strade Bianche and Liege-Bastogne-Liege) and another three-second place finishes (Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne). Her worst result has been seventh (Dwars door Vlaanderen).

When the course is long and hard, Van Vleuten is almost unstoppable. Taking this into account, Van Vleuten is the runaway favourite to win in Yorkshire. It's the longest, toughest edition of the race, ever.

It's perfectly suited to the Dutchwoman.

Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv)

Form: 7/10
Team: 7/10
Chances of overall victory: 8/10

Van Vleuten, Deignan, Anna van der Breggen and Marianne Vos. The women's Tour de Yorkshire has certainly attracted the world's best female road riders this year.

Vos is arguably the greatest of them all. A World Champion across multiple disciplines, three Giro d'Italia titles and 21 stage wins, Olympic gold medals, five Fleche Wallonne titles.

There are not many races that Vos has failed to win in her career but the emerging Tour de Yorkshire is one of them. It should suit her, however, with the mix of one flat stage for the sprinters and then a second stage in the tough Yorkshire hills.

It'll also be of benefit that Vos will be joined by teammate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, one of the fastest emerging talents in women's cycling right now.