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Coming from far back, Cort just came around Hofland and Bennati to claim his first win of the season on stage 2 of the Tour of Denmark; Bennati extended his lead over Würtz to 15 seconds

Photo: Sirotti

DANIELE BENNATI

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MAGNUS CORT

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MORENO HOFLAND

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POSTNORD DANMARK RUNDT

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28.07.2016 @ 17:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Magnus Cort Nielsen (Danish national team) proved that he is ready for his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana by clamining his first win in 2016 on stage 2 of the Tour of Denmark. The Dane launched a long sprint from far back on the uphill finishing straight in Sønderborg and narrowly came around Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) who picked up valuable bonus seconds and so extended his overall lead.

 

In 2013, 20-year-old Magnus Cort surprised the cycling elite by claiming two stage wins at the Tour of Denmark. One year later he confirmed his potential by picking up another victory and so firmly established himself as one of the most promising Danish talents.

 

Orica-BikeExchange were quick to offer him a professional contract but during his first year at the highets level, he mostly played a domestique role. This year he hasn’t received much attention either but he showed himself well at the Tour de Suisse where he did great work for Michael Matthews.

 

Cort is set to make his grand tour debut at the Vuelta and he is using the Tour of Denmark to gear up for the three-week race. Riding for the national team, he continued his love affair with his home race by claiming a very impressive victory in the uphill sprint on stage 2.

 

After the flat opening stage, the fast finishers were expected to get a chance to take revenge in stage 2 which brought the riders over 178km from the island of Rømø to Sønderborg close to the Danish-German border. Again there weren’t be many challenges when it came to the terrain as there was just one small climb on the menu before the riders get to the finish. Here they ended the race by doing 3 laps of a 6.7km circuit where cobbles and an uphill finish added to the complexity of the race.

 

The 125 riders that reached the finish of stage 1 were all present when the peloton rolled out for the stage under a dry and partially sunny sky. Like in the first stage, the continental riders were very keen to show themselves and there were attacks right from the start. A ColoQuick rider was the first to make a move and Novo Nordisk were also very active.

 

After 5km of aggressive racing, a five-rider break with representation from Coloquick, Novo Nordisk, the Danish national team, Bora-Argon 18 and Almeborg Bornholm was established but Astana chased it down immediately. Bardiani, Riwal and Novo Nordisk were next to try but Astana shut everything down.

 

At the 14km mark, riders from Denmark, Riwal and Coloquick formed a small group and Tinkoff tried their best to slow the peloton down. Nonetheless, things again came back together but Jesper Mørkøv )(iwal) made an immediate counterattack after 20km at an average speed of 48km/h and that his move seemed to be the foundation of the early break.

 

Mørkøv was joined by Sebastian Lander (ONE), Aimde De Gendt (Topsport), Wesley Kreder (Roompot), Christian Lund (Coloquick) and Mathias Dam Westergaard (Almeborg) and they quickly got a solid advantage. Unfortunately, Bardiani had missed the move and as Tinkoff refused to let one of their riders bridge across, it all came back together at the 30km mark.

 

Dam Westergaard tried again but it was the next attack from Tom Baylis (ONE), Berden De Vries (Roompot) and the Topsport Vlaanderen pair of Tim Declercq and Jens Wallays that was the right move. When the gap had gone out to more than 30 seconds, Nicolai Brøchner (Riwal) tried to bridge the gap but after 40km of racing, he found himself stuck 40 seconds behind the leaders. At this point, the peloton had already lost 2.30.

 

Declercq won the first intermediate sprint uncontested while the group slowly increased their advantage to four minutes. Tinkoff took control in the peloton and Pavel Brutt kept the gap stable at four minutes for several kilometres. Brøchner soon realized that he wouldn’t make it and with 113km to go, he was swallowed up.

 

Declercq knew that his presence in the break would detrimental to the chances for his teammate Wallays so he opted to fell back to the peloton. Further back, Tinkoff stopped their work and instead LottoNL-Jumbo took over, with Mike Teunissen and Dennis van Winden doing the early pace-setting.

 

Entering the final 100km, the gap was still four minutes but Teunissen and van Winden slowly brought the escapees back, shaving 45 seconds off the lead during the next 10km. Tinkoff had bad luck as Nikolai Trusov hit the deck but he was quickly back on his bike.

 

Entering the final 70km, the gap had dropped to less than 3 minutes. Moments later, Baylis beat Wallays and De Vries in the only KOM sprint. Teunissen made sure to cross the line first from the peloton and by picking up two points, he retained the mountains jersey.

 

With 50km to go, the gap had dropped to 1.45 and the chase got more firepower when Jose Mendes (Bora-Argon 18) started to work with Teunissen and van Winden. Those three riders reduced the gap to 1.15 during the next 10km and then Bora-Argon 18 took complete control. Meanwhile, De Vries won the second intermediate sprint

 

The fight for position intensified dramatically as Stölting, Astana and Bora-Argon 18 all sprinted for the front positions and that made the speed go up dramatically. Hence, it was a bit of a disaster that Bora-Argon 18 sprinter Nicolas Ruffoni hit the deck and even though he got back on his bike, he faced a very difficult chase.

 

Tinkoff and Astana featured prominently on the front with 36km to go where the gap had dropped to less than a minute. Here Baylis tried to drop his companions but De Vries didn’t give him an inch.

 

The intense fight for position reached a dramatic highlight when a huge crash split the field. An Astan rider was seriously hurt and Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Argon 18) and Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE) were also among the riders that hit the deck.

 

Things calmed down a bit when the riders hit the narrow roads with less than 35km to go and it was Astana that won the battle, with Gatis Smukulis setting the pace. He led the group back onto bigger roads one minute behind the leaders.

 

Mendes again hit the front and he didn’t react when Alex Rasmussen (ColoQuick) launched a solo attack. However, the Dane never got far as the fight for position again got hectic when the peloton approached another narrow road.

 

Stölting took control and had reduced the gap to 45 seconds when they reached Sønderborg with 25km to go. As soon as they hit the cobbled climb on the circuit, they sent Alex Kirsch off in an attack and he was joined by Michael Gogl (Tinkoff). However, the Austrian refused to do any work and so the pair was brought back.

 

Danilo Napolitano (Wanty) hit the front before LottoNL-Jumbo took control with Bram Tankink. He brought the break back just as they crossed the line for the first time.

 

Tankink kept riding on the front and Martijn Keizer also came to the fore to help the Dutch team keep the situation under control. They quickly responded when Frederik Backaert (Wanty) and a Roompot rider briefly attacked and things were back together shortly after the second passage of the line.

 

Van Winden took a huge turn as they approached the cobbled climb for the third time and he led Tankink onto the ascent. The Dutchman maintained a fast pace that made it impossible for anyone to attack and then van Winden again took over as they approached the finish for the penultimate time.

 

As they hit the finishing straight, Erik Baska (Tinkoff) attacked hard and he crossed the line with a small advantage over the peloton which was led by Keizer. The Dutchman bridged the gap and as he refused to work, Astana quickly brought the pair back.

 

Frederik Backaert hit the front for Wanty to position Roy Jans for the sprint before he was passed by his teammate Marco Marcato with 4km to go. Rudiger Selig was next to take charge and he led peloton onto the climb. Here Lars Boom (Astana) launched a big attack and he reached the top with a big advantage.

 

A Stölting and a Bora rider gave chase before LottoNL-Jumbo got organized. However, they hadn’t got any closer when Boom powered under the flamme rouge.

 

Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) launched a big attack and sprinted past the chase group. He caught Boom with 500m to go and went straight past the Dutchman who sat up.

 

Things were looking promising for the Dane but when Tom Van Asbroeck started the lead-out for LottoNL-Jumbo, he started to lose ground quickly. Unfortunately, he started to fade and this forced Hofland to start too early. Daniele Bennati was on his wheel and tried to come around as they passed Valgren.

 

It looked like it was going to be a two-rider battle but suddenly Cort came flying from very far back. The Dane managed to pass Hofland and Bennati just metres from the line to claim his first win of the season.

 

Hofland narrowly held off Bennati in the battle for second but the Italian picked up four bonus seconds. As there was a 2-second split between Bennati and fourth-placed Amaury Capiot (Topsport Vlaanderen), he gained more time on Mads Würtz Schmidt (Virtu Pro) who did well to place second. Hence, the veteran retained the lead and now has a 15-second advantage over the Dane.

 

Bennati faces a much sterner test tomorrow in the queen stage which finishes with the well-known circuit in Vejle. After a relatively flat start with just two smaller climbs, the stage is likely to turn into an elimination race when the riders get to the climbs around Vejle. It kicks off when the riders hit the Østengaard climb and the very steep Chr. Winthersvej after around 130km of racing and then they will hit the finishing circuit where they will tackle the 21% climb of Kiddesvej for the first time. In the end, they will do three laps of the 5.6km circuit that includes the brutally steep wall just 700m from the slightly uphill finale.

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