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Having been perfectly placed on Bos’ wheel, Ahlstrand was given the perfect lead-out in the high-speed sprint on stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta and passed the Dutchman to take a big win; his teammate Dumoulin defended his lead

Photo: Team Giant-Shimano

JONAS AHLSTRAND

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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05.09.2014 @ 00:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jonas Ahlstrand (Giant-Shimano) confirmed that he is a top sprinter in the making when he took a comfortable victory in stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta. The Swede was perfectly placed on Theo Bos’ wheel when the Belkin sprinter launched a very long sprint and easily passed his rival while his teammate Tom Dumoulin defended the overall lead.

 

In his first year as a professional, Jonas Ahlstrand has mostly been working as part of the strong Giant-Shimano lead-out trains but he has occasionally got his own chance to sprint. In April he took a breakthrough win in the Circuit de la Sarthe and today he added another big victory to his tally when he won the second stage of the Tour of Alberta.

 

As expected it all came down to a sprint in Red Deer and Ahlstrand handled the high-speed finish perfectly. He positioned himself on the wheel of his big rival Theo Bos and was in a great position when the Dutchman launched a surprisingly long sprint.

 

The pair quickly gapped the rest of the peloton but it was evident that Bos had started too early. Ahlstrand easily passed him to take the win while Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell) took third and scored four important bonus seconds.

 

After the very wet and hilly opening stage, the Tour of Alberta continued with a 145.3km stage from Innisfail to Red Deer. All day the riders rolled along rolling, exposed road before they tackled a small categorized climb with 30km to go. In the end, the stage ended with three laps of a finishing circuit that included a small uncategorized climb.

 

Unlike yesterday, the riders took off under beautiful sunny conditions which were a welcome change after yesterday’s torrential rain. With the race generally suiting aggressive racing, it was no surprise that the start of the stage was extremely fast, with lots of attacks being launched in the early part of the race.

 

After 50km of racing, no one had still managed to get clear which meant that the GC riders could sprint for the points in the first intermediate sprint. Jonas Ahlstrand (Giant-Shimano) beat Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Ben King (Garmin-Sharp) to protect the overall lead of Tom Dumoulin.

 

Things were still together at the second intermediate sprint at the 58km mark and this time Impey was first across the line, holding off Ryan Anderson (Optum) and Logan Owen (Bissell). The attacking continued but impressively no one had managed to get clear when the riders reached the feeding zone at the halfway point.

 

Moments later, a split briefly caused some panic in the peloton but things came back together. Moments later 15 riders got up the road but the peloton was reluctant to give such a big group any leeway.

 

With the peloton breathing down their necks, the escapees started to attack each other and it was Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE), KOM leader Robin Carpenter (Hincapie) and Kiel Reijen (UnitedHealthCare) who finally got clear. Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and James Stemper (5-Hour) attacked out of the group and managed to bridge the gao.

 

While the rest of the group was caught, the peloton finally slowed down a bit and allowed the front quintet to build an advantage of 55 seconds with 45km to go. That’s when Giant-Shimano started to chase and they kept the gap stable at around 50 seconds for a little while, with Steven Lammertink doing most of the work.

 

The Dutchman got some assistance from Bissell and the two teams worked together to keep the situation under control. With 30km to go, Bissell left the front and Giant-Shimano had to commit more riders to the chase.

 

At the bottom of the categorized climb with 30km to go, the gap was down to just 30 seconds but as soon as the roads started to point upwards, Giant left the front and the peloton slowed down. In the break, Yates launched an attack that only Carpenter could match and the Brit beat the American in the sprint to take over the mountains jersey.

 

Reijnen joined the pair at the top and a little later, Stemper and Wurf also made it back to the front. In the peloton Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell) and Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly) launched an attack but Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) shut it down at the top of the climb.

 

Nick Van Der Lijke (Belkin) was the next rider to give it a go but Geschke reacted quickly. InsteadmBen King (Garmin-Sharp) and Aurelien Passeron (Silber Pro Cycling) attacked and they quickly bridged the gap to the front quintet.

 

With 22km to go, the break was 20 seconds ahead of the peloton in which Giant-Shimano were chasing hard with Belkin. Thierry Hupond and Daan Olivier were working for the race leader’s team and they were quickly left to do all the work.

 

With 15km to go, Bissell again lend a hand to the Giant riders that were now 40 seconds behind. As they failed to get much closer, Belkin also rejoined the team of chasers and this had an effect.

 

At the first passage of the finish line with 12km to go, the gap had come down to 25 seconds. With 10km to go, it was only 10 seconds and this prompted Carpenter to launch an attack.

 

The American was brought back and instead Reijnen gave it a go the first time up the climb. Only King and Yates could keep up with him while Passeron was trying hard to bridge the gap.

 

At the next passage of the line, the gap was only 15 seconds but now Belkin had taken complete control with Dennis Van Winden, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer, David Tanner and Van De Lijke chasing hard. Meanwhile, Passeron had been joined by his teammate Ryan Roth and the pair managed to join the front group.

 

Belkin were again joined by Daan Olivier (Giant-Shimano) and the pair of Ducth teams had the situation under control. Passeron fell off the pace on the lowers slopes of the climb and was quickly picked up by the bunch.

 

As they entered the finishing straight, King launched an attack and he got a small gap. However, Bissel and Orica-GreenEDGE were now also chasing, with Matthew Goss taking a huge turn on the front.

 

Just after the passage of the finish line, the three chasers were caught and with 3.3km to go, Goss also brought King back. Leezer took a short turn before UnitedHealthCare took over.

 

The American team had five riders lined out on the front but they were passed by a strong acceleration from Pieter Weening (Oirca-GreenEDGE) which sent several riders out the back door. However, he came on the defensive when Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin) attacked in the other side of the road.

 

The strong Dutchman brought the Lithuanian back before he left it to a teammate to lead the peloton under the flamme rouge. Moments later Bos launched his long sprint that served as the perfect lead-out for Ahlstrand.

 

Dumoulin finished safely in the bunch but due to bonus seconds his overall lead over Zepuntke was reduced to just 9 seconds. Bonus seconds may again come into play in tomorrow’s mostly flat stage that has no categorized climbs and ends with a few laps of a flat finishing circuit. The wind may wreak havoc on the peloton but if not it should be a day for the sprinters.

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