Maserati powers the Tour de Yorkshire
Maserati brings blazing Italian sunshine to Yorkshire for a weekend of cycling drama
Article by Sam Clark
After a winter of yo-yoing weather extremes, the sun blazed over Yorkshire as the Tour de Yorkshire raced across the county. The four day bike race received larger crowds, 2.6 million fans lining the route, and enjoyed warmer weather for the weekend than was seen over in Italy at their Giro d’Italia. For the fourth year running, Maserati hosted the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride sportive on the Sunday giving amateur riders of all abilities the chance to ride and experience the same roads and cheering crowds as the pros.
The riders were lead out by Maserati cycling ambassador and former pro cyclist, David Millar driving a Levante, Maserati’s SUV. The Levante was recently given a petrol option and like all petrol engines in the Maserati range, they are made by the masters of horsepower, Ferrari.
A record braking 4,000 riders took part in the sportive tackling one of the three distances, short 49 km, long 129km. Keen for a challenge but not a survival quest, I opted for the medium 84km.
The route left Leeds for a tour through stunning scenery around North Yorkshire before heading back to the finish line in Leeds.The first of the two major climbs is the Côte de Otley Chevin. A 153m assent over 1.88km, it’s apparently ranked 143rd most difficult climb in the UK. After snaking through Otley the road leaps up and the range of cyclists taking part is immediately evident. An enviable few power up while others step off their bikes ready for a walk. Many scrabble through their gears in search of forgiving ratios to enable them to keep pushing the peddles around and inch their way up. There is no competition just a quiet encouragement and camaraderie to conquer the gradient. However they make their way up, all the riders are rewarded with the pride of battling against their furious legs on the same tarmac that the pros will charge up in a few hours time.
Halfway up a small girl in the line of spectators held out her hand to the passing riders. “If take a hand off these bars I’ll fall off!” came from one unseen face hunched down between his rocking shoulders. I couldn’t resist her eagerness and presented my hand. The cheery high-five I received felt like I had just hit one of the Yorkshire stonewalls. I wobbled and focused back onto the hill as my new supporter waved her arms in my direction crying, “I send you the happiness!”
Nearing the summit I heard a rider helpfully pointing out to another they still had one easier cog to move up to. The rider with a few precious gear teeth in reserve replied he was saving it for an emergency, “This is a bloody emergency you bastard! I’ll have it”, cried a voice down the hill.
After a brief stop for lunch – pork pie has never tasted so good – the course home is obstructed by the second large climb, optimistically flagged with a large sign at the bottom declaring, ‘SPRINT’! Later safely back in Leeds with a cold beer, we watch the big screens in awe as Frenchman Stéphane Rossetto accelerated up as if it was flat to hold onto a heroic 120km solo attack.
Last year the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride started in Sheffield’s Fox Valley. After a jaunty circle around the car park riders were thrown a near vertical wall of tarmac, pretty much extinguishing the enthusiasm for the day out of everyone’s legs. Mine at least! This year’s route was much more forgiving and I found myself chasing back into Leeds amongst a full-on peloton, everyone quietly gripped with finish-line fever. We charged through the back streets of Leeds, small breakaways thwarted by traffic lights, one last steep hill with enough of a blind summit to put doubts in your mind, willing your legs to hold on to the top. Then round through the final few corners with the noise of the crowd pounding through your head, adrenalin sucks you through a vortex with last dive under the finish line.
Glowing like the Ready Brek kid with achievement at the end of a great day out we relaxed in Leeds city center bathed in sunshine and watched Stéphane Rossetto’s super human effort to evade the peloton and hold onto his attack until the end, winning the biggest stage win of his career. Reigning Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet was the overall winner riding for BMC Racing. Greg is the second Belgian to win the Tour de Yorkshire following Thomas Voeckler’s victory last year.
American Megan Guarnier celebrated her birthday winning the women’s race. She gave a climbing masterclass, dropping her rivals on the Côte de Cow and Calf. The iconic Yorkshire climb out from Ilkley was the tours first summit finish. Belarussian Alena Amialiusik was second up the climb, 14 seconds behind Megan and Great Britain’s Dani Rowe was third just three seconds after. But it was enough for the Welsh star to claim second place overall.
2019 sportive entries are now open for Sunday 5 May here