Moreno Hofland of LottoNL-Jumbo won stage two of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire in York on Saturday.
The Dutch rider took the win in a bunch sprint after Britain’s Mark McNally (Madison Genesis) and Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin), remnants of a day-long breakaway, were swept up on the final lap of the finishing circuit.
The 174-kilometre stage from Selby to York was predicted to be a bunch sprint and after the chaos of stage one, stage two played out to form.
An early eight-man breakaway of De Backer, McNally, Andy Tennant (Team Wiggins), Stijn Steels (Topsport-Vlaaderen - Baloise), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Team Europcar), Matt Brammeier (MTN-Qhukeba), Nicholas Edet (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) and Ivar Slik (Team Roompot Oranje Peloton) was allowed to accrue a lead of over six minutes as the race traversed the Yorkshire Wolds.
McNally took maximum points at both King of the Mountains points of North Newbald and Fimber, putting him level on points with overnight jersey holder, Europcar’s Quemeneur. McNally’s aggressive ride also earned him the people’s vote for the most combative rider.
But with an overall lead to defend, Team Sky orchestrated the chase to protect Lars Petter Nordhaug’s lead, bringing the gap to a comfortable level as the race entered the finishing circuit in York.
De Backer and McNally broke away from their six companions and held out until the last of three laps before De Backer attacked alone, the British rider unable to respond.
The kilometre saw attempts to counter from Cofidis and BMC but the bunch sprint was inevitable, De Backer was swept up and Hofland clinched the win from Matteo Pelucchi and Ramon Sinkeldam.
Russell Downing (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) was first British rider home in seventh, with Harry Tanfield (JLT Condor) ninth.
Lars Petter Nordhaug held onto a ten second lead on the overall classification, with Britain’s Erick Rowsell holding eighth overall at one minute and 20 seconds.
Great Britain Cycling Team’s Scott Davies was the team’s protected man after a strong performance on stage one. Davies’ day was threatened by a rear-wheel puncture with 49-kilometres to go, but the 19-year-old chased back on with teammate Jake Kelly to finish 61st, in the main bunch six seconds back on the winner.
Oliver Wood was Great Britain Cycling Team’s top finisher in 43rd, toward the head of the main group.
The day left Davies in 15th overall, one minute and 29 seconds behind the race leader.
"It's a great opportunity for them to learn on a finishing circuit like that," said Great Britain Cycling Team road manager Keith Lambert.
"You're just fighting for the wheels in the bunch. We haven't got a big strong professional team where you can look after one person and keep the line steady for them.
"So they're having to fight for themselves. That's how you learn. You just have to learn to fight and scrap for the wheels.
"Scott managed to get up after a long chase - it couldn't have been at a worse time," continued Lambert.
"It was tough getting on there in and out of those corners that will have obviously took it's toll on him.
But looking ahead to the final stage, Lambert was hopeful.
"For Scott in that position, if he can hold his own, that will be a great result for him," he said.
"There's no reason why he can't if he doesn't have any bad luck and he climbs well."
Earlier in the day, York was treated to the spectactle of the women’s circuit race, with IKON-Mazda’s Louise Mahe taking the win ahead of Eileen Roe and Katie Curtis.
Mahe beat national criterium champion Roe by just six inches in a fast and furious race around the 20-kilometre York circuit used for the finale of the men's event later in the day.
“Some girls were starting their sprints quite early but I knew the finishing straight was quite long and I didn’t want to go too early," Mahe said to Cycling Weekly. "I waited and a gap opened up, and I went for it.”
The Tour de Yorkshire concludes on Sunday with the 167-kilometre stage from Wakefield to Leeds.