Tour de Yorkshire: Megan Guarnier wins women's Tour de Yorkshire race

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Dani Rowe, Megan Guarnier and Alena Amialiusik on the Tour de Yorkshire podium
Dani Rowe, Megan Guarnier and Alena Amialiusik on the Tour de Yorkshire podium

Megan Guarnier celebrated her birthday by claiming overall victory in the women's Tour de Yorkshire on the summit finish of the Cow and Calf outside Ilkley.

The American, who turned 33, put to use tips from her Boels-Dolmans team-mate Lizzie Deignan - not defending her title after announcing her pregnancy - to pace her way up the imposing climb before breaking clear of Canyon/SRAM's Alena Amialiusik and Great Britain's Dani Rowe 500 metres from the summit.

Victory on stage two saw Guarnier win the general classification by 17 seconds from Rowe.

"Lizzie took me through what I might expect in the final," Guarnier said. "I knew it was uphill, downhill, twisting, and winding but I hadn't been able to preview the courses so I had to race on instinct."

Guarnier had an injury-wrecked 2017 but can leave Yorkshire feeling back to her best.

"I'm really happy," she added. "It's my first win of the season and after a tough season last year I feel like I'm back. The team were really behind me today and to have that confidence from them and be able to finish it for them, I'm really proud of that."

This was the first year in which the women's Tour was held over multiple stages, making the general classification an entirely new element.

Rowe, who won bronze in the Commonwealth Games road race last month, had targeted the event and knew what to expect in the tough finale of the 124km stage from Barnsley.

"I was trying to stay within myself," the 27-year-old said. "At one point I got gapped but I didn't panic. I knew it was probably going to come back together - if they could keep it up fair play to them - but I reeled them back slowly and I'm so happy to get third on the stage and second overall."

For a second day running, the race attracted huge crowds rarely seen on the women's circuit, and Rowe expects the Tour de Yorkshire will only continue to grow.

"I feel proud that the UK has got a race like this with full TV coverage and a great sponsor like ASDA and it's now a two-day race," she said.

"I don't see why it can't become a WorldTour race and replicate the men's race in the number of stages. I think we've proven how exciting our racing really is and I think it's looking really positive for women's cycling in the future."

Magnus Cort Nielsen moved into the overall lead of the men's race with two stages to go as he pipped Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet to the line.

BMC's Van Avermaet appeared to be battling fellow Belgian and defending champion Serge Pauwels of Dimension Data for victory but Astana's Cort Nielsen had other ideas and the Dane came around Van Avermaet inside the final 200m of the 149km stage.

"I was looking at Van Avermaet all day and thinking he was the guy to beat," Cort Nielsen said. "I was lucky that nobody tried any attacks on the climb and we rode a solid, stable tempo that suited me really well.

"Then I was there for the sprint. When I can see the line like that I was the fastest guy out of the seven or eight guys that were left.

"It is the perfect day. I couldn't wish for any more."

Cort Nielsen inherits the race leader's blue jersey from Yorkshireman Harry Tanfield, who suffered a puncture early in the day and struggled to recover, though he was happy to move into green as he retained the lead of the points classification.

"I spent a lot of the race out of the race trying to get back in the race," he said.

"I spent a lot of energy I probably shouldn't have because I punctured early and couldn't get a tow back on. I'm shattered, but I've got green tomorrow so that will be nice. I haven't got any green socks though."

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