A race volunteer had a lucky escape during the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire when an Astana team car almost ploughed into him. It was only a bit of quick moving from the signalman that prevented him from being hit as he dove out of the way at the last second.
The volunteer, who had on a high-vis jacket, was stationed at a pedestrian crossing in the centre of the road to warn riders of its presence. The breakaway, peloton, and several team vehicles managed to navigate the road furniture but the driver of the Astana vehicle did not seem to notice him and drove straight towards him.
The volunteer jumped out of the way of the oncoming vehicle before it was too late as the car continued, driving through the bollards fixed to the crossing.
A video of the incident was widely circulated on social media and Astana issued a statement on Twitter early on Monday morning.
"We're deeply sorry about the incident with our team car. The sport director that was driving the car contacted the race organizer directly after the race to send our apologies. We're trying to get in touch with the marshal as well. We're sorry and want this to never happen again."
Shock to the system for Cavendish
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) has said that his return to racing at the Tour de Yorkshire has been a 'shock to the system'. Cavendish had not raced since his high-speed crash at Milan-San Remo, which left him with a rib fracture.
The incident was Cavendish's third major crash in as many races. He hit the deck on the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour when a race vehicle slowed into the bunch after its automatic braking system engaged. He suffered a concussion but was able to come back for Tirreno-Adriatico a couple of weeks later, only to hit a pothole in the opening team time trial and break a rib. Despite this, he was able to ride Milan-San Remo and was with the front group on the approach to the Poggio when he collided with some road furniture with 10 kilometres to go.
Cavendish had initially planned to make his comeback at the Tour of California later this month but brought it forward so that he could contest the four-day Tour de Yorkshire. He struggled through the first three stages before climbing off during the final stage into Leeds. The Manxman said that the lack of racing had hurt him.
"It has been a shock to the system, having had so little racing this year," Cavendish said, according to Cycling Weekly, following the penultimate stage of the race.
"I thought I'd be a bit better than I am. I'm a bit skinny, I've been training but I'm just missing that top end."
Van Avermaet dedicates victory to Rihs
Greg Van Avermaet claimed overall victory at the fourth edition of the Tour de Yorkshire after an aggressive showing by his BMC Racing team, and dedicated the win to the team's owner Andy Rihs, who died last month.
Van Avermaet started the final stage 10 seconds behind the overall leader Magnus Cort (Astana), and his team set out to put the Dane under as much pressure as possible right from the off. His teammate Brent Bookwalter got into the initial breakaway but was brought back a few kilometres later. Bookwalter would end up being one of three riders left to support Van Avermaet as they tackled the final climb of the race.
Successive attacks piled on the pace and a lone Cort was soon out the back with no more teammates to assist him. Van Avermaet saw the chance and attacked to take bonus seconds at the top of the climb but it wasn't necessary, with Cort finishing almost two minutes behind the Belgian. Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) won the stage, with Van Avermaet taking the sprint in the group behind to seal his overall success, with Eduard Prades (Euskadi-Murias) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) rounding out the final podium.
Speaking after the race, Van Avermaet dedicated the win to Rihs, who had been the team's backer for more than a decade.
"First of all, I want to say that this is a victory for Andy Rihs. I'm really happy with the win. It's the first win for BMC Racing Team since Andy died so it was a goal to win the race in honour of him," said Van Avermaet.
"We all had it in mind to win the race for him and tomorrow is his funeral. He supported our team for many years and I think that the work that the team did was really amazing. We had him in our minds and it was really great that we could finish it off. So thank you to Andy, thank you to the team, and I'm so happy that I can win this race. It was a great atmosphere and I'm happy to have the Tour de Yorkshire on my palmarès. It's always nice to win a GC as it's not that easy for me."
Yorkshire courting Vuelta
Having hosted the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014, which subsequently spawned the Tour de Yorkshire, the English county is in talks with the Vuelta a España over a future Yorkshire start to the Spanish Grand Tour.
The Vuelta, which takes place between August and September, is partly run by Tour de France organiser ASO, which also helps in the running of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Welcome to Yorkshire boss Gary Verity told the BBC that they had been in talks, with Vuelta a España director Javier Guillen paying a visit to Yorkshire for the opening two stages.
"Javier was here for the presentation on Wednesday night and left on Friday," Verity told the BBC. "We can offer stunning backdrops and fantastic crowds, he's been able to see that for himself in the flesh."
Yorkshire is also set to host the 2019 Road World Championships, the first time that the Worlds will visit Britain in 37 years.
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