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"It was a little bit impulsive, to be honest. I felt really good and that was the hardest section of the loop, and I just decided to try an attack."

Photo: Sirotti


04.09.2016 @ 14:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Evan Huffman (Rally) took the biggest win of his short career when he emerged as the strongest in a very fast third stage of the Tour of Alberta. Having joined Robin Carpenter (Holowesko) in a strong attack in the final 10km, he finally beat his companion in the sprint to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey. Kris Dahl (Silber) beat Bauke Mollema (Trek) in the sprint for third.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Evan Huffman: It was a little bit impulsive

"It was a little bit impulsive, to be honest," Evan Huffman. "I felt really good and that was the hardest section of the loop, and I just decided to try an attack. I accelerated a little bit the lap before, and then I just decided to go even harder the next time, and it worked out.


"I was mostly thinking about the GC, and then once we got out there on the last lap, just the two of us, then I started to think about the stage a little bit. But it’s a tricky situation. You can’t mess around too much because then you get caught. So it was really just those last couple of corners where I tried to sprint. There wasn’t really time to back it off, play around and try to save energy for the sprint.”


Frustrated Robin Carpenter after near-miss: I fell asleep in the finale

"We came into town and came across the line and saw three to go," Robin Carpenter said. "Then on the next lap on the uphill crosswind section – it was uphill and full-on crosswind from the left – Evan kind of accelerated there on the previous lap, and he went again and I basically hadn’t let him out of my sight in the last 30km, so I went with him.


"With two turns to go I was asleep at the wheel a little bit. Evan played it right. I looked right and he went left. He had a couple of bike lengths on me before the last turn, and that was pretty much it. It was well-played."


Frustrated Bauke Mollema loses ground in Alberta

It was 80 kilometers before a breakaway established in stage three, and when nine men finally gained a gap on the unwilling peloton, Peter Stetina was part of the move.


But Saturday saw a much more motivated peloton and the escape group was caught as they entered the three finish circuits in Drayton Valley.


When two danger men, Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team) and Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), third and fourth in the overall classification, attacked with less than 10 kilometers remaining and gained 20 seconds the alarm bells sounded behind.


"Carpenter and Huffman attacked with about 8kms to go," explained Mollema. "We tried to close the gap with a few other teams but didn't succeed. With two kilometers to go (Gregory) Rast did a very strong last pull on a slight uphill and after that, I attacked and tried to bridge.


"Two guys from the Silber team followed, but we didn't manage to close the gap to Carpenter and Huffman. Due to the bonus seconds they got, I'm 18 seconds behind now. It's a pity because they are both good time trialists and Sunday is only a 12-kilometer time trial."


The late attack by Mollema almost worked as the trio came within four seconds of the two leaders, while the peloton finished seven seconds in arrears.


Mollema maintained his fifth in the overall classification, gaining time on third and fourth GC, but losing precious seconds to two of the strongest rouleurs in the battle for the podium.


The decisive 12-kilometer time trial Sunday will be raced with no time trial bikes ahead of a tricky final circuit in Edmonton Monday. The race, unpredictable and thrilling every day, is far from over.


Colin Joyce loses leader’s jersey: Huffman and Carpenter are the strongest

Colin Joyce of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team conceded the lead Saturday at the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial. But the winner of Stage 1 and race leader for two days is only 10 seconds back, in third place, heading into Sunday's individual time trial.

Joyce finished 18th, 11 seconds back of a pair of riders who struck out once the 181.2-kilometer race reached three laps of a finishing circuit in Drayton Village. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) took the win and the leader's yellow jersey by out-sprinting Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team). Kris Dahl (Silber Pro Cycling) was third, four seconds back, while Joyce and about three dozen others arrived another seven seconds later.

"Huffman and Carpenter have been showing how strong they are all this week," said Joyce, who kept his lead in the best young rider classification. "Those two guys are definitely the strongest guys here. Our guys rode their hearts out and chased as hard as they could. A few other teams tried as well. But those two guys were just so strong."

Axeon Hagens Berman found itself in the unusual role of not having to chase the day's breakaway after Tyler Williams slipped into the escape move. Silber Pro Cycling, with two riders in the top 10 overall but no one in the breakaway, was forced to drive the chase. 

"After the long day we had yesterday, we wanted to possibly have someone in the breakaway so we would not have to work because the guys were really tired," Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx said. "It worked out perfectly until the last couple local laps where Huffman and Carpenter were just stronger and took off and won the stage and took the jersey. They were stronger. There is nothing more to say to that."

Sunday's penultimate stage is a short (12.1 km) time trial that will be ridden on standard road bikes with no aerodynamic handlebars or wheels. Joyce said he has his work cut out for him with the first 10 riders in the overall standings - including defending champion Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) - separated by only 31 seconds.

"All I can do is go as hard as I can and hopefully repay my teammates for all their hard work," Joyce said. "All these other GC (general classification) guys up here are solid time trialists. There is no stress, there is no pressure. I am just going to give it my all and that is all I can do."

Merckx said Joyce's results on the first two stages - his victory Thursday and a fifth place Friday - show he has the form to stay within striking distance ahead of Monday's 124.1-km finale on a challenging circuit in Edmonton.

"He is in really good shape so it will come down to him doing the best time trial possible and then we will assess where he is at tomorrow night to tackle the last leg of this stage race," Merckx said. "We know the circuits in Edmonton are very hard and even harder to control. So it could still be an open race going into the last stage, depending on how much Huffman is going to put into all those GC contenders."



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