Protests hit Froome's Ineos as Asselman wins Tour of Yorkshire opener

Dutch rider Jesper Asselman went on to claim the opener off a long-range escape.

Chris Froome's Team Ineos was confronted with screams of “sell out”.   -  AFP

Anti-fracking protestors confronted Chris Froome's Team Ineos with screams of “sell out” ahead of the first stage of the Tour of Yorkshire on Thursday before Dutch rider Jesper Asselman went on to claim the opener off a long-range escape.

The protest against riders representing Ineos, formerly known as Team Sky, came after environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth accused the company of trying to “greenwash” its reputation because of its involvement in fracking and as a large-scale producer of plastic.

One protester shouted “sell out” and “Judas” as Ineos riders made their way to the race start in Doncaster.

There were a few dozen protestors in total but Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford dismissed their impact by saying: “I had to hunt them down first because I couldn't find them.

“There was hardly anybody there, let's be honest, let's be real. The 15,000 mob that was to attack me this morning didn't really materialise.”

The British squad became known as Team Ineos as of this week, after Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, Britain's richest man, took over sponsorship of the outfit.

On the rainswept course, the opening 182-kilometre leg of the race saw Roompot-Charles rider Asselman emerge victorious from a group of four riders who broke away from the main peloton.

The rebranded Ineos team of four-time Tour de France winner Froome and renowned sprinter Mark Cavendish's Team Dimension Data did much of the chasing but could not overhaul the leaders.

“I thought we were going to get caught (earlier) because the advantage went down really fast in the last 15 to 20km,” said Asselman, celebrating his first victory since March 2016.

“When we went underneath the flamme rouge (one kilometre remaining) I knew we had a little chance but I knew I had to stay calm and wait for the right moment.

“It was a little bit of a gamble, but I went through a small gap on the inside and just went full gas. I looked under my elbow and saw it was going to happen.”

Team Sky, then funded by the satellite broadcaster of the same name, won six Tour de France titles in seven years and eight Grand Tour victories in total.

But they were mired in controversy over the way they used special medical exemptions to administer drugs that can enhance performance.


1. Jesper Asselman (NED/Roompot-Charles) 4hr 5min 45sec, 2. Filippo Fortin (ITA/Cofidis) same time, 3. Jonas Van Genechten (BEL/Vital Concept) s.t., 4. Boy van Poppel (NED/Roompot-Charles) 5. Gabriel Cullaigh (GBR/Team Wiggins) s.t., 6. Ethan Hayter (GBR.National Team) s.t., 7. Cyril Barthe (FRA/Euskadi Basque), 8. Mark Cavendish (GBR/Dimension Data) s.t., 9. Chris Lawless (GBR/Team Ineos) s.t., 10. Rick Zabel (GER/Katusha-Alpecin) s.t.

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