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After McCarthy had created a gap behind his teammates, Breschel allowed lead-out man Mørkøv to cross the line first in the final stage of the Tour of Denmark; Juul took the overall victory

Photo: Feltet.dk

CHRISTOPHER JUUL-JENSEN

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EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN

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MARCO MARCATO

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MATTI BRESCHEL

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MICHAEL MØRKØV

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POSTNORD DANMARK RUNDT

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08.08.2015 @ 15:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Despite playing the role of lead-out man, Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo) became a surprise winner of the final stage of the Tour of Denmark after a splendid performance by his Tinkoff-Saxo team. Teammate Jay McCarthy created a gap through the final turn which allowed protected sprinter Matti Breschel to led his lead-out man take the win in a 1-2 for the Russian team before Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) crossed the line in third. Christopher Juul Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) made it an even better day for the team by securing the overall victory.

 

Michael Mørkøv is known as a consummate teammate who rarely gets a chance to ride for himself. He enjoyed his moment in the spotlight two years ago when he took a surprise stage win in the Vuelta a Espana but otherwise he has mostly spent his time as a bike rider in anonymity.

 

Today he was again expected to play the role of domestique in the final stage of the Tour of Denmark where he was given the role of final lead-out man for double stage winner Matti Breschel. However, after a splendid performance by the team in the traditional sprint stage, Breschel had the chance to give the win to his teammate in a 1-2 for Tinkoff-Saxo

 

At the start of the final lap of the flat 6km finishing circuit, lone escapee Brian van Goethem (Roompot) had a 10-second advantage over a very organized peloton that was in full chase mode. Juraj Sagan, Michael Kolar (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nic Dougall, Theo Bos (MTN-Qhubeka), Nicola Boem, Enrico Battaglin and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani) had combined forces for a few laps and were breathing down the Dutchman’s neck.

 

Just after the passage of the line, van Goethem was bought back by Dougall who swung off and left it to Sagan to take one final massive turn. Battaglin was the final of the early chasers to end his work and from there Tinkoff-Saxo took compkete control.

 

Michael Gogl, Jay McCarthy, Christopher Juul, Michael Valgren, Michael Mørkøv and Matti Breschel were lined out on the front while their rival lead-out trains scrambled for position further back.  With 2km to go, McCarthy took over and then it was even race leader Juul who took a turn.

 

Going through one of the final turns, Jaco Venter hit the front for MTN-Qhubeka while his teammates were hiding a little further back. Valgren again took control for Tinkoff-Saxo, followed by Mørkøv and Breschel.

 

Valgren led the peloton onto the finishing straight while McCarthy had slotted into fourth. The Australian made a small move by creating a gap and when Edvald Boasson Hagen’s lead-out man Andreas Stauff realized the danger, it was too late.

 

With Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani) and Boasson Hagen glued to his wheel, the German went full gas but further up the road it was Mørkøv doing the lead-out. Ruffoni launched a long sprint while Breschel move up alongside his teammate, looked back and gave the nod to Mørkøv to allow him to cross the line first. Boasson Hagen finished very fast but had to settle for third.

 

Christopher Juul Jensen finished safely in the bunch after having worked for his teammates in the finale and so he secured the biggest victory of his career. Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) was second, 45 seconds behind, while Marco Marcato (Wanty) completed the podium.

 

With two stage wins, Breschel took points jersey while Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal) was the best climber. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Coloquick) was the best young rider and Tinkoff-Saxo won the teams classification. Finally, Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the most aggressive rider.

 

With the Tour of Denmark done and dusted, many riders will move further north for the Arctic Race of Norway which takes place next week while other riders will do the Eneco Tour or the Tour de l’Ain.

 

A stage for the sprinters

After the dramatic time trial, the Tour of Denmark ended with its traditional sprint stage which brought the riders over 150km from Hillerød to Frederiksberg in the centre of Copenhagen. The first part of the stage included three smaller climbs in mostly flat terrain and it all ended with 10 laps of a flat finishing circuit where the fast riders were expected to shine.

 

For the fourth day in a row, it was beautiful summer in Denmark when the riders gathered for the start of the final stage. All riders who finished yesterday’s stage were present as they headed out for their neutral ride.

 

Ligthart and Thurau get clear

Last year the final stage turned the GC on its head and that may have served as an inspiration for the riders who got the race off to an extremely fast start. Already after one kilometre of racing, six riders seemed to have gone clear but when they were brought back, the attacking continued for 20km without anyone being able to get a significant advantage.

 

Unfortunately, Martijn Verschoor was forced to abandon after a crash before Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal) and Bjorn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18) finally managed to break the elastic after 20km of racing. At the 25km mark, they had built a gap of 1.10 and as the peloton took a small moment to recover, it went out to 2.35 five kilometres later.

 

Trefor take control

Ligthart was a threat to Patrick Clausen’s mountains jersey and so Clausen’s Trefor team hit the front. While Juraj Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) fought his way back to the peloton after a puncture, they started to reel the break in.

 

At the 42km mark, the gap was 1.50 but moments later Ligthart managed to win the first KOM sprint while Clausen sprinted to third from the peloton. At this point, the gap was only 1.15 and it was down to a minute at the 60km mark.

 

Puncture for Thurau

Thurau punctured out of the front group while Brian van Goethem (Roompot) and Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) attacked from the peloton. They joined forces with Thurau while Ligthart won the second KOM sprint.

 

Ligthart was first across the line in the first intermediate sprint, followed by Thurau and van Goethem, and he also rolled first over the line in the final KOM sprint, followed by van Goethem, Thurau and Planet. With the KOM sprints now done and dusted, Trefor stopped their work and as Tinkoff-Saxo took over the gap went out to 3 minutes at the 75km mark.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo take control

Sagan and Mickael Kolar worked in the peloton and got some assistance from Theo Bos (MTN-Qhubeka). At this point, the chasers were 35 seconds behind Ligthart who decided to wait for them and so it was a front quartet that entered the final 70km.

 

At this point, the gap was only 1.50 but as Sagan, Kolar and Bos were not chasing hard, it had gone out to 2.30 by the time they crossed the finish line for the first time. This was the signal for Bardiani to take over and the Italian team took complete control.

 

Bardiani start to chase

Enrico Battaglin, Alessandro Tonelli and Nicola Boem traded oulls on the front and their hard work made the gap melt away. At the end of the first lap, it was only 1.45 and as they entered the final 40km, it was 50 seconds.

 

The three Bardiani riders got some help from Sagan to keep the gap stable at that mark for a while and this opened the door for attacks. With 37km to go, Martin Toft Madsen (Bornhom) and Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) took off but they only managed to stay clear for around one kilometre before Bardiani and Sagan had brought them back.

 

Ciolek crashes

When Thurau led Planet and van Goethem across the line to win the final intermediate sprint with 5 laps and 30km to go, the gap was down to just 40 seconds and one lap later, the four escapees had lost another 5 seconds.

 

With 18km to go, a big crash brought down numerous riders, including Jef van Meirhaeghe, Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen), Rasmus Mygind (Riwal), Julien Morice (Europcar) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) who lost his top 10 spot on GC. The tumble split the field and several riders were forced into chase mode as the peloton was not slowing down.

 

Van Goethem takes off

At the start of the 8th lap, the gap was 22 seconds and now it was a very determined chase effort. In addition to Sagan and the three Bardiani riders, Nic Dougall, Bos (MTN-Qhubeka) and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Kolar were also taking turns and they had brought it down to 16 minutes at the start of the penultimate lap.

 

As they hit a very small climb on circuit, Ligthart launched an attack and while Thurau sat up, van Goethem countered the move. The Dutchman turned out to be the strongest while Ligthart and Planet stayed in chase mode for a little while before they were reabsorbed. Moments later, van Goethem crossed the finish line for the penultimate time but it would all come down to the expected bunch sprint.

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