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In a very wet bunch sprint, Porsev held off Selig and Sbaragli to win the final stage of the Tour de Slovenie; his teammate Taaramae took the overall win ahead of Haig and Barta

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

ALEXANDER PORSEV

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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KRISTIAN SBARAGLI

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REIN TAARAMAE

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RUDIGER SELIG

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TOUR DE SLOVENIE

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19.06.2016 @ 19:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Porsev (Katusha) took his third big victory when he emerged as the strongest in a very wet bunch sprint on the final stage of the Tour de Slovenie. In the final dash to the line, he held off Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) while his teammate Rein Taaramae finished safely to take the overall win ahead of Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18).

 

A few years ago, Alexander Porsev was regarded as the next Russian top sprinter and things looked very promising in 2014 when he was consistently among the best in the bunch sprints and won the Russian championships. However, several health issues have set him back since then and in 2015 he never found his best form.

 

In the recent Giro d’Italia, Porsev finally returned to his former level as he was one of the most consistent sprinters in the race. He missed out on the elusive win but the race proved that he is back on track.

 

The result probably provided Porsev with confidence for this week’s Tour de Slovenie where he was up against a formidable group of sprinters. Mark Cavendish had abandoned before the final stage which was the only opportunity for the fast guys but he was still up against the likes of Elia Viviani and Sacha Modolo. The stars were unable to get the better of Porsev who emerged as the strongest when the race all came down to the expected battle between the fastest guys, with Rudiger Selig and Kristian Sbaragli completing the podium.

 

The day was fantastic for Katusha as Rein Taaramae also finished safely in the bunch to take his third overall victory in a stage race in less than a year. Last summer he won the Arctic Race of Norway and the Vuelta a Burgos and in this race he got the better of Jack Haig and Jan Barta after having won the queen stage.

 

After yesterday’s time trial, the sprinters were expected to come to the fore on the final day. The final 179.1km stage between Rogaska Slatina and Novo Mesto was the easiest of the race as there were no major climbs on the menu. After a flat start, the riders tackled three small category 3 climbs at the midpoint and then they headed along flat roads to Novo Mesto where they ended the stage by doing three laps of a flat 5km circuit.

 

All riders who finished the time trial were present as the peloton gathered under rainy sky. Unsurprisingly, there were lots of attacks and it took some time for the early break to be formed.

 

Finally, Michele Gazzara (Norda), Jens Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Sergey Nikolaev (Gazprom), Daniele Colli (Nippo) and Jon Bozic (Adria Mobil) managed to get clear and put 1.10 into the peloton. As the peloton slowed down, it had gone out to 3.40 when Gazzara beat Nikolaev and Colli in the first intermediate sprint.

 

The gap was kept stable between 3.20 and 3.40 for a long time and this gave Gazzara plenty of time to contest the second intermediate sprint which he won ahead of Nikolaev and Colli. It had dropped to 3 minutes at the bottom of the first climb but when Gazzara led Wallays and Nikolaev over the top, the peloton had lost a bit of ground as the advantage was 4.05.

 

Bozic beat Nikolaev and Gazzara in the third sprint at the 76.2km mark while Katusha and Lampre-Merida rode on the front to slowly bring the gap down to 3.00 at the halfway point. When Gazzara led Wallays and Colli over the top of the second climb, it was even down to just 2.00.

 

As the rain stopped, the front group upped the pace which was too much for Bozic who was left behind. When Gazzara beat Wallays and Colli in the final KOM sprint of the race, the peloton reached the top 3.20 later. Bozic was quickly swallowed up.

 

Rain started to fall again as the chase got organized. With 25km to go, Wallays had given up and left it to Gazzara, Colli and Nikolaev to try to maintain a gap of just 1.15.

 

At the first passage of the finish line, the gap was still 50 seconds but as it was coming down quickly, Colli tried to take off on his own. He started the penultimate lap with a small advantage but it was all in vain as he was brought back before Dimension Data led the peloton onto the final lap. In the end, it all came down to the expected bunch sprint and here Porsev proved his speed as beat Rudiger Selig and Kristian Sbaragli in the dash to the line.

 

Taaramae finished safely in the bunch to take the overall victory with an advantage of 1.42 over Jack Haig. Jan Barta was 2.38 behind in third. Haig won the points competition and Jan Tratnik (Amplatz) was the best climber. Egan Bernal (Androni) was the best young rider and Androni was the best team.

 

With the national tour done and dusted, the attention in Slovenia turns to the national championships. The time trial was held a few days ago but the road race will take place on Sunday.

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