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2 May 2016, 07:27
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler beat Nicholas Roche to win the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and claim overall victory in Scarborough.
Direct Energie rider Voeckler and Team Sky's Roche had broken clear of their fellow escapees on Oliver's Mount, the last of six categorised climbs on a 198km stage from Middlesbrough as Yorkshire provided a stern test for the peloton.
The pair engaged in a game of cat and mouse as they headed around Scarborough Castle and along Royal Albert Drive towards the finish, but it was the veteran Voeckler who timed his move right.
This stage was always expected to decide the winner after two bunch sprints on the opening two days, and so it was that Voeckler claimed the general classification win from Irishman Roche, who got the same time on the day but finished six seconds back overall once bonus seconds were applied.
Voeckler said he used his experience and ``cold blood'' to take the victory, but, speaking through a translator, claimed he would not have won had he been riding for Team Sky because of the amount of work they had to do to control the race.
The 36-year-old switched to English when asked about the final kilometres.
"I was not confident,'' he said
"Iknew that I had a chance but Nico Roche is pretty fast. I said to him, instead of playing against each other, let's ride together and we'll see in the sprint, but I wasn't sure at all because he's usually faster than me.''
Bury native Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) crossed the line third on the day just ahead of Cofidis rider Anthony Turgis, although Turgis took third overall ahead of the Brit.
"I think we rode well all three days, everyone was super strong so we can look forward to the rest of the season now."
On the eve of the opening stage, news emerged that Yates' twin brother Simon had tested positive for terbutaline - which Orica-GreenEdge said was the result of an administrative error by the team doctor in not applying for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).
Asked if that had affected him at all, Yates said:
"Not at all. He's alright. I'm alright. But if you're asking about Simon I'm going.''
Organisers said that more than two million people had turned out over the three days of the race, and huge crowds lined a challenging route which took the peloton through the North Yorkshire Moors, with the scenes on Sutton Bank reminiscent of Alpine passes in the grand tours.
Sky's Luke Rowe said:
"The UK is possibly one of the hardest places in the world to race.
"You look at a day like today, it's brutal all the way through. It was what we expected - a small group at the finish and bodies everywhere.''
The challenging course saw several breakaway attempts throughout the stage, but after the main early break had been caught, Sky took control with Pete Kennaugh doing the heavy work.
With Sky on the front nothing else stuck until Roche, Yates and Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto-NL Jumbo) attacked 22km from home - soon followed by Voeckler and Turgis.
"The plan was to do more or less what we did.
"The guys were really, really good. This morning when we set up everyone had a proper role, everyone was really, really committed to what they had to do, and myself and Lars (Petter Nordhaug, last year's winner) were going to attack at the finish.
"That's what we did, but then with Voeckler, in the cat and mouse game he's number one.''