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Kristoff proves that he is in a class of his own in the bunch sprints at the Tour des Fjords and by winning the final stage, he also takes the overall victory 

Photo: Einar Oliver Landa










01.06.2014 @ 19:12 Posted by Emil Axelgaard
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) got it all on the final day of his home race, the Tour des Fjords, when he won the final stage in a bunch sprint in his home city of Stavanger. As race leader Magnus Cort (Cult) failed to finish in the top 10, the 10 bonus seconds were enough to give Kristoff the overall victory with a 1-second margin.
Alexander Kristoff had made the overall win in his home race, the Tour des Fjords, a big goal but a few days ago he seemed to have lost it all when he had failed to make it into a 9-rider group that stayed away to the finish. With just two stages to go, he found himself with a 13-second deficit to make up compared to new leader Magnus Cort and it seemed that he had to win both stages to achieve his goal.
Yesterday he got slightly closer by winning the penultimate stage but when Cort took second, he still had 9 seconds to make up going into today's final stage which was the easiest of the race. As expected, it came down to a bunch sprint and all Kristoff could do was to win the stage and hope that Cort finished outside the top 10.
The Katusha captain did his part of the job as he proved that he is a class of his own when it comes to sprinting in the Norwegian race. With Nikolay Trusov (Tinkoff-Saxo) getting a gap in the finale, he had to launch his sprint from afar but that turned out ot pose no threat for the local hero.
Kristoff powered past Trusov to take a very convincing victory and as Trusov held onto second ahead of Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen), the Katusha rider got it all, relegating Cort to second by just 1 second. Stage 1 winner Jerome Baugnies (Wanty) was rewarded for an aggressive ride by completing the podium.
The final stage took place on a 171.3km course from Risavika to Stavanger which hosted the finish for the second day in a row. After a flat start, the riders tackled a climb at the midpoint before descending to a mainly flat finale. Unlike yesterday, the finishing circuit had no major climbs and as there was also no wind, a bunch sprint was expected.
That didn't dampen the attacking spirit though and the early part of the race was very fast and aggressive. At the intermediate sprint after 22km of racing, the break still hadn't slipped clear bu the GC contenders failed to score bonus seconds as Sven Erik Bystrøm (Øster Hus) beat Sam Oomen (Rabobank) and Tim Declercq (Topsport) in the battle.
The attacking continued and finally a group was allowed to go clear when Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Pieter Jacobs (Topsport), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Martijn Tusveld (Rabobank) and Frederik Wilmann (Ringeriks Kraft) took off. The quintet started to build a gap while Cult took control in the peloton.
Tusveld beat Madrazo and Jacobs in the second intermediate sprint while Wilmann beat Tusveld, Madrazo and De Marchi in the first KOM sprint of the day. The gap hovered around the 3-minute mark as all the work was left to the small Cult team.
De Marchi who was sitting in the top 10 on GC tried to win the final intermediate sprint but was beaten into second by Jacobs. A little later, Jacobs beat Tusveld in the final KOM sprint of the race.
Bjørn Tore Hoem (Sparebanken) attacked from the peloton but the young Norwegian failed to get clear. Meanwhile, the escapees had made a strong reaction to the increased pace and with 12km to go, they were still 1 minute ahead.
Øster Hus took control of the peloton on the final lap while the escapees started to attack each other. De Marchi and Jacobs took off on their own while behind Baugnies made one last bid for the overall win, attacking with Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural).
That duo was soon caught and as the peloton was also about to bring the front duo back into the fold, De Marchi went again. The Italian did a strong ride, forcing Sparebanken to hit the front in full force.
Inside, the final two kilometres, De Marchi was finally caught but as Sparebanken started to fade, Aldo Ino Ilesic (UnitedHealthCare) sneaked away. For a moment, he seemed to be riding away with the win until Trusov did a long sprint.
The Russian passed the lone leader and got a big gap that forced Kristoff to go from afar. When he put down the hammer, however, the Norwegian proved his superior class, powering past Trusov to take his third win of the race and the overall victory.
Kristoff also won the points classification while Txurruka was the best climber. Cort was the best young rider while Cannondale was the best team in the five-day race.
 A hectic series of big races in Norway has now come to an end but there is still a major stage race in the Scandinavian country left. In August, ASO organizes the second edition of the Arctic Race of Norway where Kristoff can be expected to be back in action.



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