Dimension Data went into the third and final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire with a plan for overall success, executing it to a t. Jacques Janse van Rensburg was the man to set things up over the Cote de Wigtwizzle before Serge Pauwels made the winning move.
While Pauwels was ahead of the race, riding to the stage and general classification double, teammate Omar Fraile bridged across inside the final two kilometres of the stage into Fox Valley to secure a one-two finish. Direct Energie's Jonathan Hivert was third on stage at six seconds and completed the overall podium in the same position.
For Pauwels, his first win as a professional was especially special as he explained that he had specifically requested to race in England.
"The support today was incredible. Over the winter my team wanted me to take part in the Tour de Romandie to warm up for the Tour de France but I said no, I want to do the Tour of Yorkshire," Pauwels explained. "I can't believe I've won here. This is my first professional victory and I am a little surprised with myself because usually I prefer longer climbs. Today's stage lent itself to a really explosive rider and there were no moments of respite.
In explaining his race winning move, Pauwels was full of praise for Fraile and ability to sacrifice himself for a teammate.
"He has been a fantastic roommate to me this week and he is great guy," Pauwels said of Fraile. "Basically, he gave me the victory today which makes him a great person. I didn't know at the time how much work he was doing for me because when I got the gap my sports director, Roger Hammond, told me I was not allowed to look behind me one more time."
Having turned professional in 2006, the 33-year-old spent time with the Cervelo, Sky and Omega-Pharma teams prior to joining Dimension Data. Pauwels explained that after his long wait for a victory, he was dedicating the win to his team having briefly thought his move had come to nothing.
"So, for the last 10km I pretty much did a time trial and only in the last kilometer I saw an ENVE wheel next to me, so I thought they had all caught me but it was only Omar," said Pauwels. "I have always wanted to win a race and now I have won two at the same but really, this is a team victory."
The win is Dimension Data's first in Europe for 2017 and first since Ryan Gibbons won the Tour de Langkawi in March.
Having achieved his career goal of a win, Pauwels' next goal is likely to be his fourth Tour de France in July and tenth overall Grand Tour.
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