Tour de Yorkshire: Jersey joy for Williams as Walscheid claims emotional win
Skipton's Pete Williams will wear the jersey for most active rider past his front door on Sunday after helping animate a third stage that was won in a sprint on Scarborough seafront by Max Walscheid.
The achievement had extra resonance for Williams, who became a father less than a month ago.
The prospect of baby son Max being present as he speeds past his home was one of the incentives that helped him be the first rider to summit iconic climb Cote de Sutton Bank on Saturday’s third stage of the Tour de Yorkshire from Richmond to Scarborough.
Part of a five-man breakaway that sped away early on, Williams beat fellow Briton Jonathan McEvoy to crest Sutton Bank before relinquishing command to McEvoy on a later King of the Mountains summit, Cote de Silpho, which fractured the peloton.
His part in that duel earned him the fans’ vote to wear the Dimension Data Most Active Rider jersey.
“It’s always nice to come away with a memento for the race and I get to ride in a leader’s jersey on my home stage, which goes past my front door,” he said.
“My family will all be out watching and it’ll be my little boy’s first bike race, that will be quite special.”
If Williams’ achievement was poignant, then it was a day of moving storylines, not least in the man who won the race.
Walscheid, 24, from Germany, and riding for SunWeb claimed his biggest win since tragedy struck him and five Giant Alpecin team-mates on a training ride two years ago when he was hit by a car driving into oncoming traffic.
Walscheid held off the challenge of a bunch sprint in which Magnus Cort Nielsen - the winner of the second stake up the Cow and Calf in Ilkley 24 hours earlier - finished second to retain the leader’s blue jersey.
It was a redemption of sorts for Cort Nielsen, who was involved in a crash that left him with several broken bones on the Tour de Yorkshire road into Scarborough 12 months ago.
Mark Cavendish eased up with 10km to go and came home eight minutes down before happily signing autographs, a performance on the bike that said more about how this was no ordinary sprint stage, as the day’s winner agreed.
“It was a really nice parcours and to win a more difficult stage is good for me because normally I am more for the really flat bunch sprints,” said Walscheid.
“Now I am growing into a sprinter who can win more difficult stages.
“The scenery is incredible and the Yorkshire fans, I think they are the best, there were massive crowds all over the road.”
A final word for Sylvain Chavanel who stirred echoes of his French compatriot and former Tour de Yorkshire champion Thomas Voeckler with a daring solo attack as the peloton hit Scarborough, only for his quest for victory to be swallowed up by the bunch 300 metres from the line.
There was even time for a wedding couple and their party to spill out of church and watch the race speed past Ainderby Steeple Church.