Chris Lawless almost capped a flawless display for Team Ineos at the Tour de Yorkshire but the British WorldTour team eventually had their pocket picked by Alexander Kamp and his Continental Riwal Readynez Cycling Team in Scarborough on stage 3.
Kamp and his team went toe-to-toe with Team Ineos to take much deserved win in the seaside spring, although Lawless was left with some consolation. His second place finish saw him move into both the leader’s and points jerseys with one stage to go.
“It was a real good job by the boys all day. It was us and the Riwal team that took the initiative to split the race in the crosswinds at the top of the climb. And that worked out,” Lawless said at the finish in Scarborough.
Coming into the finish, Team Ineos still had numbers to play with. Chris Froome, Owain Doull and Lawless were among five Ineos riders in a group of around 20 and it was Doull who hit the front for Lawless in the closing meters. It looked like the perfect lead-out but Kamp was good enough to hold on after launching his sprint for the like to take the stage.
The former Danish national road champion has an impressive resumé for a rider on a Continental team. Last year he took a stage at the Tour of Norway, while this season has seen him win the Circuit des Ardennes and finish eighth at Brabantse Pijl. Lawless, meanwhile, is searching for his first win of 2019 after two podium places in the past two days to go with third at Scheldeprijs.
“I just wish ... there’s a couple of things I could have done differently in the sprint. I should have maybe laid off Doull’s wheel a bit so I could rush the gap and carry my speed. I’m just gutted,” said Lawless as he stepped into the leaders jersey, level on time with Kamp.
“You noticed the wind but not so much the water. And yeah, we didn’t realise how much of a tail-cross the sprint was actually going to be. I think the guys thought it would be a bit more of a direct crosswind. Maybe a bit of cross-tail. But yeah I’m gutted,” he added.
Ineos’ strength in depth at the race is nothing unexpected and they now have four riders within 10 seconds of Lawless’ lead. Stage 4 of the race includes over 3,000 meters of climbing and the race is keenly poised, although Lawless questioned whether he could hold on. Last year’s overall winner Greg Van Avermaet finished third in Scarborough and is still well placed to defend his title.
“I mean, my climbing has improved this year but I think tomorrow might be a bit of a stretch. We’ll see. I seem to be going alright. We still have five guys up there on GC. We’ll see what happens.”