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With a smart attack from a front quartet, Mancebo soloed to victory on the final stage of the Tour of Alberta; Carpenter finished ninth and won the race overall ahead of Mollema and Huffman

Photo: Sirotti

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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COLIN JOYCE

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EVAN HUFFMAN

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FRANCISCO MANCEBO

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HOLOWESKO/CITADEL

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KRISTOFFER SKJERPING

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ROBIN CARPENTER

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TOUR OF ALBERTA

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06.09.2016 @ 00:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) proved that there’s plenty of life in the old legs when he rode to an impressive solo victory on the final stage of the Tour of Alberta. As the lone survivor of a big early break, he made a smart attack from a front quartet with less than 2km to go and held off the fast-finishing peloton by 3 seconds before Kristoffer Skjerping (Cannondale) beat Colin Joyce (Axeon) in the sprint for second. Robin Carpeter (Holowesko) finished 9th and took the overall win with a 1-second advantage over Bauke Mollema (Trek), with Evan Huffman (Rally) completing the podium.

 

Francisco Mancebo has had one of the most controversial careers in recent cycling history but in the last few years, he has got lots of admiration for his love for cycling. His involvement in Operacion Puerto ended his time at the highest level but the Spaniard has continued to ride for much smaller teams in America and Asia.

 

For several years, Mancebo was the dominant stage racer in the US and in the last two years with the Skydive Dubai team he has extended his lengthy palmares with numerous top results in Asia and America. Despite not being able to go for GCs in the big races, he has still been an aggressive rider whenever he has been up against the WorldTour teams and a few years ago he crowned it all with a stage win in the Tour of Utah.

 

Today Mancebo delivered a similar performance when he got one of his only chances to test himself at the highest level in the 2016 season. On the final day of the Tour of Alberta, the Spaniard showed his class by taking a great solo win after having been on the attack all day.

 

Mancebo was in GC contention after the hard first stage but lost it all when he missed out in the crosswinds on stage 2. Yesterday he told Cyclingnews that his goal now was to win the final stage on the hilly circuit in Edmondton and he achieved his big goal in beautiful fashion.

 

Mancebo was part of a 13-rider breakaway that escaped after a fast start and he was the only rider who managed to hang on when Lawson Craddock, Chad Young and Daniel Summerhill arrived from behind. With a sneaky move 2km from the finish, he dropped his companions and finally held off the peloton by 3 seconds to take the win.

 

While Mancebo enjoyed his stage win, Robin Carpenter celebrated the overall win. All day Trek tried to pave the way for Bauke Mollema to take back the one second he was missing but the expected attack never came. Hence, the young American could step onto the podium to celebrate the biggest win of his career.

 

After yesterday’s time trial, the 2016 edition of the Tour of Alberta was decided on the same circuit in Edmonton that was also used in 2014 and 2015. This year the riders tackled the 11.9km circuit eleven times for an overall distance of 121km. It was definitely not a flat affair as it included two small climbs, one of them coming just around 1km from the top. Furthermore, it had a very technical finale with numerous turns inside the final kilometre. There were be bonus seconds on offer at the finish on laps 4 and 8 while the first climb offered KOM points on laps 3, 6 and 9.

 

There was no sign of the bad weather that marred the race in the first days when the riders gathered for the start and as expected they got it off to a furiously fast beginning. Right from the start, a Cannondale and a Unitedhealthcare rider escaped but they were brought back as they went up the climb for the first time.

 

The attacking continued and after 15km of racing, a dangerous 20-rider group managed to build an advantage of 15 seconds. However, Carpenter’s Holowesko team did a great job to control things and so the group was brought back. After 30km of racing, no one had gone clear yet.

 

The elastic finally snapped when Peter Stetina (Trek), Julian Arredondo (Trek), Tyler Williams (Axeon), Toms Skujins (Cannondale), Phil O’Donnell (Axeon), Matthew Busche (Unitedhealthcare), Travis McCabe (Holowesko), David Drouin (Silber), Ivan Santaromita (Skydive), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Matthieu Jeannes (Lupus), Danilo Celano (Amore e Vita), Matteo Dal-Cin (Silber) and Francisco Mancebo (Skydive) managed to escape. While Bailey McKnight (H&R) and Alexis Cartier (Canada) took off in pursuit, they quickly managed to build an advantage of a minute. However, they were stuck 40 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Celano beat Jeannes, Mancebo, Williams, Stetina, Busche, Arredondo and Rathe in the first KOM sprint on the third lap before Rathe had bad luck to puncture out of the break. In the peloton, it was Bauke Mollema’s Trek team that took control, allowing the gap to go out to 2.30 when McCabe beat Williams and Skujins in the first intermediate sprint at the end of the fourth lap.

 

After five laps, Cartier decided that it made no sense to press on and so dropped back to the peloton, leaving McKnight in lone pursuit of the leaders. He soon sat up too and waited for the peloton which was now led by the Holowesko team.

 

Holowesko kept the gap at around 2 minutes while the 13 leaders contested the second KOM sprint which was again taken by Celano ahead of Jeannes, Drouin, Busce, O’Donnell, Arredondo and Williams, meaning that the Italian had sealed his win in the mountains classification. The team then slowly increased the pace and at the end of the seventh lap, the gap had been reduced to 1.40.

 

As the peloton hit the climb the next time, Chad Beyer (Lupus) launched a strong attack. Marco Zamparella and Nicola Campigli (Amore e Vita) joined him but the trio had a hard time getting much of an advantage. With 35km to go, they sat up to wait for the peloton which was still led by Holowesko.

 

Just as the junctions was made, thing became dangerous when the GC riders started to attack. Antoine Duchesne (Canada) and Alex Howes (Cannondale) took off. Ryder Hesjedal (Trek) tried to follow but he had the rest of the peloton in two. When he swung off, race leader Carpenter closed the gap to the two attackers and then Piet Allegaert (Trek) made a move.

 

While Holowesko tried to regain control, McCabe beat Williams and Stetina in the final intermediate sprint as the front group started the third last lap. 1.30 later, the peloton crossed the line, led by seven riders from the Holowesko team.

 

As they front group hit the main climb, Drouin attacked to win the KOM sprint ahead of Stetina and Celano and he was joined by Mancebo. The pair quickly got a nice advantage and with Mancebo taking a huge turn, they extended their advantage on the descent.

 

As the peloton started the climb, Trek launched their offensive when Hesjedal and Allegaert took off. However, Holowesko managed to shut the move down and things were back together as they crested the summit.

 

With 25km to go, the next attacks were launched when Frank Schleck (Trek) joined forces with a Rally rider. Again Holowesko managed to neutralize the move and things were still under control as they approached the start of the penultimate lap.

 

There was no cooperation in the chase group and when the gap to the two leaders had gone out to more than 10 seconds, Skujins tried to bridge across. McCabe tried to join him but was unable to make the junction as they crossed the line. The peloton arrived just 55 seconds behind the leaders and was now led by the Rally team.

 

Skujins made the junction just as they approached the main climb for the 10th time while Stetina, Arredondo and McCabe all decided to drop back to the peloton to support their teammates. The two Trek riders went straight to work and set a brutal pace that strung out the field. Gradually, they picked up the rest of the chase group.

 

Rally also came to the fore lend Trek a hand and it was Danny Pate (Rally) who set the pace as they tackled the final climb. Duchesne attacked again and was joined by Chad Young (Axeon) and even though Schleck started to chase for Trek, the pair managed to get a solid advantage. However, as Hesjedal went to work for Trek, the pair was brought back just as they started the final lap 20 seconds behind the three leaders.

 

Hesjedal kept riding on the front until 9km remained where he was passed by the Holowesko team in the brutal fight for position. The fast pace meant that the gap was down to just 10 seconds as they hit the main climb for the final time.

 

As soon as they started the climb, Skujins attacked from the front group but it was in the peloton that the action heated up. While Mancebo paced himself back to Skujins, Gregory Rast took a massive turn for Trek. Carpenter attentively stayed on his wheel as they sprinted past Drouin.

 

As they went over the top, the pace went down and this allowed Skujins and Mancebo to reopen their advantage. Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) used the hesitation to attack and he was joined by Eddie Dunbar (Axeon) and Daniel Summerhill (Unitedhealthcare). The trio caught the front duo just as they hit the final 5km with an advantage of 10 seconds.

 

Skujins sacrificed himself completely for Craddock and so the gap widened as no team was able to control things in the peloton. A rider from the national team took off but it was Zamparella who got a bigger advantage. The Italian sprinted past Skujins who had swung off in the front group as they hit the final climb.

 

Jelly Belly were chasing desperately but they were not getting any closer to the four leaders. Things were looking good for the quartet even though there was a bit of discussion as Dunbar refused to work.

 

Zamparella was brought back before the peloton entered the final 2km where Mancebo suddenly got a small advantage over his three companions. The Spaniard hit the final kilometre with a solid gap and as the chasers failed to cooperate, he increased the gap.

 

The chasers were brought back on the finishing straight but there was no one stopping Mancebo. The Spaniard had time to celebrate the win before Kristofffer Skjerping beat Colin Joyce in a crash-marred sprint for second.

 

Carpenter finished safely in 9th and so took the overall win with a 1-second advantage over Mollema, with Huffman sitting six seconds further back in third. Joyce won the points classification, Celano was the best climb, Alexander Cataford (Silber) was the best Canadian rider and Joyce was the best young rider. Silber topped the teams classification.

 

With the Tour of Alberta done and dusted, the attention in Canada turns to the WorldTour races Grand Prix Quebec and Grand Prix Montreal which take place on Friday and Sunday respectively.

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