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After yesterday's failure, Kristoff finishes off a perfect lead-out from his Katusha team by holding off Van Asbroeck and Enger in the bunch sprint to take both the stage win and the overall lead

Photo: RCS Sport








29.05.2014 @ 19:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) bounced back from yesterday's disappointment when he won today's second stage of the Tour des Fjords in a bunch sprint. The Norwegian was given an excellent lead-out by his Katusha teammates and held off Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Sondre Holst Enger (Sparebanken) to take both the stage win and the leader's jersey.


Yesterday Alexander Kristoff fought valiantly to win the first stage of the Tour des Fjords but being isolated in a very hard finale, the Norwegian had to cover attacks himself and could only manage fifth in the sprint. Today the second stage took place in flatter terrain and here no one was able to stop the local hero.


All day his Katusha team had everything under control and easily brought it back together for the expected bunch sprint. With Jerome Baugnies having the leader's jersey, they could even allow themselves to save some energy for the finale, with the Belgian team doing a lot of the early chase work.


When it all came down to the expected sprint, Kristoff had most of his team intact and when the Russians took control, the outcome was never in doubt. Rudiger Selig was the penultimate rider in the train and he delivered his captain perfectly on the front before Kristoff launched his powerful sprint, holding off Tom Van Asbroeck and Sondre Holst Enger in the final dash to the line.


The 203.2km second stage from Eidfjord to Haugesund was a mostly flat affair and apart from a climb at the midpoint, only the wind could pose a danger for the fast riders. Katusha had big plans and they kept things together until the first intermediate sprint at the 36.7km mark. Here Kristoff beat Nikolay Trusov (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale) to pick up three important bonus seconds.


The fast riding continued for more than an hour and the riders got to the70km mark before a break finally took off. Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Lukasz Bodnar (Active Jet), Tsgabu Grmay (MTN) and Sondre Hurum (Motiv3) were the riders that were finally allowed to go clear. They were allowed to build up a massive 11-minute gap when Grmay beat Madrazo in the KOM sprint at the midpoint of the stage.


With 100km to go, the gap had even reached 12 minutes but then Wanty started to chase. With 70km to go, it was already down to less than 6 minutes and Wanty now got some assistance from the Sparebanken riders.


Grmay beat Hurum and Madrazo in the second KOM sprint to take over the mountains jersey while Madrazo was first across the line at the second intermediate sprint. As the gap was down to less than 2 minutes inside the final 40km, Grmay took off on his own.


Katusha had now finally joined Wanty and Sparebanken on the front but as they caught the three chasers, they clearly eased up. In a few kilometres, the gap went back up to 2.50 and it took some time before the chase finally got going again.


Wanty, Katusha and FxIT took the responsibility but with 12km to go, Grmay was still 2 minutes ahead. However, the Ethiopian champion started to fade and with 8km to go, he was back in the fold.


While Joker took control, Sven Erik Bystrøm (Østerhus) launched a brave attack but Katusha shut it down after a couple of kilometres of chasing. From there, the Russian team remained in control until the delivered Kristoff to the expected home win.


With his bonus seconds in the first intermediate sprint, Kristoff now leads previous leader Baugnies by 3 seconds ahead of tomorrow's third stage. It' another lumpy affair with several short, sharp climbs but the final 50km are mostly flat, meaning that Kristoff has a good chance to extend his lead.



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