Adam Kenway's heroic ride in a five-man breakaway on stage three of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire gave Vitus Pro Cycling Team a welcome share of the spotlight after two days of tough racing.
Kenway, who 24 hours earlier had been the first of the men in red to cross the finish line at the summit of the Cow and Calf climb from Ilkley at the conclusion of stage two, wasted little time in joining four fellow escapees on an undulating road from Richmond to Scarborough.
Kenway swapped turns on the front for kilometre after kilometre, working with Pete Williams (One Pro Cycling), Jonny McEvoy (Madison-Genesis), Robbert De Greef (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), and Mathias Le Turnier (Cofidis) to build a lead that grew to two-and-a-half minutes.
Kenway's efforts finally brought some exposure to Cherie Pridham's hard-working squad, who had toiled bravely through the opening two stages for scant reward.
The importance to a small team of national television exposure cannot be overstated. Development squads like Vitus Pro Cycling Team are almost entirely dependent on the investment of sponsors to continue providing young riders with life-changing opportunities like a place in the Tour de Yorkshire.
"When the break went up the road, we screamed and shouted as if we'd won the race, because it was exactly what the team needed," Pridham revealed. "It took a huge amount of pressure off everybody."
Kenway reprised his death-or-glory effort from the Rutland Melton CiCLE Classic three weeks earlier, where he rode ahead of the chasing pack for hour after hour, even launching a solo counterattack when his breakaway companions were reeled in by the chasing pack.
While the race split behind him in Yorkshire, with BMC Racing throwing down the gauntlet to the entire peloton, and especially to UCI WorldTour rivals Team Sky and Team Dimension Data, Kenway continued to contribute to the efforts of a motivated breakaway.
BMC Racing's audacity, however, proved to be the undoing of the escapees. When the Swiss-American team rolled the dice for its own chances, the entire complexion of the stage altered. By the time Kenway and his brave companions approached the outskirts of Scarborough, with 37km of racing still ahead, the peloton enveloped them.
Kenway, Vitus Pro Cycling Team's oldest team member and arguably its strongest rider, had looked comfortable on the stage's two categorised climbs: Suffolk Bank and the Côte de Silpho. A former national hill climb champion, he remained in control of his effort on both climbs, keeping Williams and McEvoy in sight, while saving his energy for the long effort ahead.
The Côte de Silpho proved the beginning of the end for Kenway and company. BMC Racing moved quickly to the front of the chasing pack as the road rose, and soon after panic gripped the peloton and chaos ensued.
The UCI WorldTour giants, ostensibly riding in support of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, succeeded in placing Brent Bookwalter in a five-man counterattack, but even this effort was thwarted, and as the peloton flashed through Scarborough and onto the seafront, Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) launched his own, doomed effort.
The French veteran, one of the classiest riders in the peloton, was caught by a voracious bunch within sight of the finish line. Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) was first home, swiftly followed by race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana), who strengthened his grip on the blue jersey.
Cort Nielsen's bravery in contesting the sprint went unremarked, but those who saw him crash with horrific consequences on the same strip of tarmac 12 months earlier would have noted his courage.
All six of the Vitus Pro Cycling Team riders who rolled out of Richmond more than four hours earlier finished the stage, and will today sign on for the final instalment of an especially brutal edition of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Tomorrow, the riders will face the concluding fourth stage, dubbed 'The Yorkshire Terrier'. The 189.5km stage from Halifax to Leeds includes six categorised climbs and barely a metre of flat road.