Tour of Yorkshire – Stage 1 – Thomas Degand «We didn’t think it would be this hard»

02 May 2015

IAM Cycling

IAM Cycling Tour du Yorkshire

It is clear that Yorkshire has many surprises.  After the surprise of the pretty yellow bike that the town of Knaresborough offered Michel Thétaz on Thursday, which was among the yellow bikes first displayed by the town in the streets during the Tour de France last year, the fact that a breakaway won the stage was the next surprise. Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky), who along with four other riders escaped the grips of the remaining peloton with 20 kilometers to go to the finish, took the victory on the line in Scarborough and grabbed the leader’s jersey as a result.

IAM Cycling TDF Yorkshire ambiance illustration

This was a surprising victory since a mass sprint had been predicted by the entire peloton.  “Everyone thought there would be a bunch sprint,” Thomas Degand said.  “Honestly, I was surprised by this stage for several reasons.  First, the weather: it was not more than 10 degrees and there was always wind, so it was not easy.  Then judging from the profile on paper, we did not think that it would be this hard.  But with 100 kilometers from the finish, there were riders all over the place, and many guys were simply dropped.”  This proved a hard recovery for the Belgian rider who has made his return to competition by this race in England after several months without racing.  “I was happy because during the stage on a hard climb with 60 kilometers to go to the finish, the peloton was reduced to maybe 50 riders, and I was among them.  At the end, I clearly felt that I was missing the race rhythm.  I could stay with the group, but I couldn’t take any pulls.  That’s normal and nothing alarming; I must remain realistic.  But I hope that these three days of racing will help me be even more competitive at the Tour of Bavaria.”

IAM Cycling Mallorca Degand Thomas

The profile and resulting difficulty of the stage did not only surprise Thomas Degand. Mario Chiesa, directeur sportif for the Swiss team, was also caught off guard.  “In the last 70 kilometers there was not a single flat meter,” Chiesa explained.  “We pretty much knew what to expect because the Tour de France came through here last year, but I have to admit, it was a pretty complicated day.  The profile made it look like small bumps, but in reality the climbs were terrible.  The sprinters like Matteo Pelucchi, Jonas Van Genechten, and Sondre Holst struggled to hold the tempo.  But they can catch up tomorrow.  In any case, it will be their only chance since Sunday definitely will be a stage for the punchy climbers.  I am quite satisfied with how the team is doing, though, since it is a young group, and the riders were all able to stay together.  Near the final when that last breakaway group went off, Vicente Reynes was up among them, but the peloton caught back up with them on the very difficult part.  It’s a shame because I think he could have had a good chance otherwise.”