Feature – NFTO in Yorkshire Day 2


Day 2 of the UCI Pro Team NFTO’s recce of the Tour de Yorkshire stages was cold, wet and very very windy!

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Feature – NFTO in Yorkshire Day 2


After a leg breaking day 1 on roads that were up and down all day, the roads for stage 2 of the forthcoming Tour de Yorkshire promised to be easier for the riders in the UCI pro team, NFTO.

The day dawned, as expected, wet, freezing cold and also very windy and that meant a tough day in the saddle again. At the hotel, as the riders climbed into the climb, was a special guest in Pete Jacques who was to follow the riders as they pedalled their way around East Yorkshire.

This stage is said to be a show piece one with a bunch finish expected in the tourist mecca of historic York. The course includes a few laps of a small finishing circuit and if the weather gods are kind, it may well be everything the organisers are hoping for.


Special guest on the ride today was Pete Jacques chatting to another sprinter in Sid Barras.

If the weather gods are angry however, the stage could be every bit as hard as the other two in the race and that is very hard indeed.

The weather forecasts for the stage 2 recce by NFTO had predicted bad weather and the roads were certainly wet and the air freezing when the riders got into the team cars for the ride to a layby near Sancton where their ride would begin.

Once out of the cars, I was wishing I had gloves on as the wind was ever so biting cold and the riders were wrapping up warm. The first part of the course inspection in the cars had revealed a flat and fairly straight forward course with an historic single lane bridge one of the few things that stood out as we drove the early section of the stage.


The van is unloaded and bikes laid out for the riders to start their ride of the route for stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire.

The choice of starting point was because the riders wanted to get on their bikes before the first ‘climb’ which is at North Newbald (32Km) and as expected, they took the short rise up out of the flat lands in their stride, using the gradient to warm up already frozen muscles.

They then travelled onwards over familiar roads to many a British rider on their way to a jewel in East Yorkshire, Beverley. If ever there was a cycling city, it’s Beverley.

The crit champs have been there many times, as have the Friday night crits and as the NFTO riders came out of Beverley, they were on more familiar roads we’ve seen used in the East Yorkshire Classic which has ceased to be on the racing calendar which is a major shame.

As memories flashed back of victories on these roads including a British Road Championship won by Hamish Haynes, the riders cruised over roads which up to this point were tame, wideish roads with not a lot of gradient to trouble anyone.


The NFTO riders ride through a very special place in cycling, Beverley.

But, it was far from an easy ride as the wind was howling in the rider’s faces and the rain too fell from time to time just to make things that bit more uncomfortable. After the riders had finished the recce, Steele Von Hoff gave his opinion of the parcours. “It will be a tough course if the wind is anything like today” he explained.

“If it is, it might not be a bunch sprint but a small group one I expect.”

“The finishing laps are quite tough because there are lots of bends and corners in them but once you negotiate all them, you come down to the final few K which is quite simple and the last K was a dead straight run in. It will be a nice finish for the cameras if it’s a bunch kick though!”

That is something that Steele would no doubt love to be part of racing against the likes of Marcel Kittell who he raced in the Tour Down Under. A rider who will there alongside him to help put him in a good position if it comes down to a bunch kick is Rob Partridge.

Rob is a Tour of Britain veteran who has been the highest placed Brit in that race in the past. He gave his assessment of the stage parcours saying “Today was a fairly short day out for us and another solid ride in the bank. It was relatively easy in comparison to yesterday and tomorrow which I imagine will be the hardest day of the three.”


DS Dave Povall gives the riders some instructions from the team car.

Asked about the first 32 kilometres, Rob said they were pretty featureless but if the wind is like it was today, it could be carnage out there. “The roads saw us going in three different directions and chances are that on one of those roads, there may be huge crosswinds like there was today. But then we may wake up and find it’s a nice calm day and if so, it will probably end up in a bunch finish.”

Whilst the first 30k is pan flat, the course does start to roll a bit as it approaches Beverley. “There is one section of the course which is quite rolling and that stings the legs a bit after having been rolling along on the flat but it was nothing like yesterday”

“I’m glad we have seen it and I imagine it will be a day for us to keep close to Steele (Von Hoff) if the stage is going to come down to a sprint of some kind. He’s certainly our best hope for that.”

Rob described the finishing circuit roads as really hard bumpy city centre roads with a nice archway to get through close to the finish and some cobbles too. I think the word might be technical for the run in with the final section of the sprint suited to a big bunch mad rush to the line.


Steele Von Hoff looks pleased to have some food ready for him as he climbs off the bike and into the van for the trip tot he hotel five miles away.

Another of the features of the parcours for the stage are the roads switching from normal A width roads to narrow single lane roads and that could cause lots of problems like the peloton having to ‘breathe in’ so it can squeeze down the lane and those at the back being detached after having to slow down and the sprint to catch back up .

“That’s where you’ll need to be well positioned and that’s why it’s good to have a look at these stages so we know where to position ourselves” says Rob. “We’ve made notes on places we know we’ll have a few k to move up on before it gets tough to do that on the narrow lanes and that’s why we’re here.”

During the days ride, two of the eight would spend five to ten minutes on the front of the group before moving to back into the shelter of the wheels and during the long headwind section, shortened the turns a little to help the legs recover for the next effort.

Rob explained that sitting in the wheels helped the legs recover well which meant they could ‘push on’ when riding at the front and they certainly weren’t hanging about. A mini training camp like this is similar to doing three hard days by yourself says Rob with the bonus being the extra morale the riders get from being around their teammates instead of the treadmill of training back home which for many is done alone.


Rob Partridge alongside Steele Von Hoff during the recce on day 2.

“On the climbs on day 1, we helped draw each other out but we’ve not being doing anything crazy because we want to take in what the course is like” Rob explained. “So this camp is basically three endurance days where we can soak in all the information on the course we can”.

Watching the riders at dinner, it’s easy to see that the benefits of a camp like this are far more than learning the roads for the Tour de Yorkshire. Lots of smiles and chatter can only be good for them and their morale as they head for their first goal of the season, the Chorley Grand Prix on April 4th.

Before that though, there is the little matter of the third stage recce tomorrow. An earlier start and then a ride over some of the toughest roads in the country.

It’s not a stage where a bunch kick is expected but rather one where the race will be well spread out over the roads of Yorkshire as the sprinters struggle on the relentless steep British ‘bergs’ and the climbers reveal on the up and down roads.

One thing is for sure, when the riders head home tomorrow, there will be a lot of aching muscles screaming for a rest over the weekend after three tough days in Yorkshire.


Some tired bodies climb into the team van after the ride, Pictured are Sam Harrison and Rob Partridge.


Then the food bags were dished out with some cycling food and some treats ;-)  

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