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“Tomorrow's time trial normally suits me well. When I look at the GC now, I should hopefully be able to gain some more time. The guys behind me are faster in the sprints so could maybe take some bonus seconds on the last stage."

Photo: DCU / Mads Hansen

POSTNORD DANMARK RUNDT

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
30.07.2016 @ 08:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) took a big step towards overall victory in the Tour of Denmark by claiming an impressive solo win on the queen stage in Vejle. Having powered up the final climb of Kiddesvej, the Dane reached the finish with an advantage of two seconds over Alexander Kamp (Stölting), Marco Marcato (Wanty) and Rasmus Mygind (Riwal) and now leads the race with a 5-second advantage over Magnus Cort (Denmark).

 

We have gathered secveral reactions.

 

Michael Valgren: Normally I should be able to extend my advantage

Michael Valgren continued Tinkoff’s strong start to the Tour of Denmark this week taking a superb victory on stage 3 with a huge attack on the final short, sharp climb to the line. Looking comfortable on each of the four tough finishing circuits, Valgren left the select front group behind as he powered his way to the overall race lead, held by teammate Daniele Bennati going into the stage.

 

After the stage Valgren said:

 

“I'm really happy - it's my first win in a few years, and it's the hardest stage to win in the Tour of Denmark. The city where we finished today, I lived there for two years so I know the town really well, so it's really nice to win there in front of the public. It was quite hard with little time between the Tour, but I love to ride in Denmark and to show the people here who come to see me that I am capable of getting the results - it's nice to pay them back.”

 

“We’re super happy with today, with Valgren winning the stage and taking the overall,” explained Sport Director Lars Michaelsen after the finish. “Normally we have a good position to go from here into tomorrow’s time trial.”

 

Going into the stage, Tinkoff had both the responsibility of defending the overall race lead, but also the goal of bringing Valgren in a good position towards the finishing laps to contest the win. After a hard fight in the opening 15km, the right selection formed and five riders set about building a maximum lead of up to seven minutes.

 

The racing was steady until the final 40km where attacks came from the peloton with the gap dropping under two mintues, and going into the four finishing circuits, a new selection of five was leading the race, with Tinkoff controlling affairs behind.

 

It wasn’t until the second time up the finishing climb that the front of the race came back together, as Valgren pushed clear as part of a small group, together with Michael Gogl, and Daniele Bennati also joining from a small group behind over the top. This group was to explode again the next time up before a group of around 20 headed into the final ascent together.

 

Coming into the bottom corner in third position, Valgren jumped clear as soon as the road kicked up. At first three riders hung on to his wheel but as he powered on, they dropped off, leaving him to turn into the finishing straight alone, finishing a handful of seconds ahead of his rivals. Race leader Bennati came across the line a few minutes back after losing contact on the penultimate climb.

 

“From the initial performance plan we were looking to support Valgren for the GC here, and we kept him safe until today,” Michaelsen continued. “Then with Benna’s win, suddenly we had another card, but today he didn’t have the legs for the finish. We just had to play the game at the end, and Gogl was up there also but unfortunately we had to use up Boaro towards the end which was the only down side as he was another card to play.

 

“The guys did a great job as we were down to seven from the start with Nikolay Trusov not able to start after his crash yesterday. Erik Baška and Michael Kolar did a good job controlling the race and then the other guys pulled on the finish laps to keep it together. Then Valgren finished off the job.”

 

“I had to take the opportunity today,” Valgren continued. “We have a really strong team here - they guys rode perfectly today for Benna and me. Benna and I spoke on the third lap that and he wasn't too good so I took it up and it was up to me. Coming into the last climb I thought just give it a go. You had to be up there coming into the climb as it's quite narrow and hard to move up. I keep my head cool and went full gas up the climb and it all worked out.

 

"I think I stayed calm and followed when the others went. I did not use more energy than necessary. I thought that it was all or nothing. I would rather be in front than sitting in seventh and being unable to pass. Fortunately, I managed to win so it was really cool.
 

“Tomorrow's time trial normally suits me well. When I look at the GC now, I should hopefully be able to gain some more time. The guys behind me are faster in the sprints so could maybe take some bonus seconds on the last stage so I want to make it safe tomorrow.

 

"Usually I should be able to beat Cort in a time trial, but maybe I will have really bad legs tomorrow and will do the worst time trial of my life. I have to go out and gain a little more time on Cort who is a good sprinter and can take bonus seconds on the last day. Hopefully I can keep the yellow jersey until Sunday. I hope so. I usually do a good time trial.”

 

Going into the stage as race leader, Bennati was pleased that the jersey passed to a teammate.

 

“Like I said this morning, I didn’t know how my condition was still from day to day, but Michael Valgren is in super condition as you saw.”

 

Tomorrow’s fourth stage tackles a 19.6km individual time trial where Valgren will look to defend his race lead, and Manuele Boaro will look to put his TT strengths to good use.

 

Alexander Kamp laments costly mistake after near-miss in Danish queen stage

Stage 3 of the Tour of Denmark (2.HC) had been pinpointed as the best chance for a stage win by Team Stölting Service Group. Michael Carbel made the break of the day, and Mads Pedersen, Alexander Kamp, and Rasmus Guldhammer dominated the final. After an outstanding performance, Kamp was beaten only by Michael Valgren (Tinkoff).

 

Five riders formed the break 12 km into the 178 km stage from Aabenraa to Vejle and built an advantage of up to seven minutes. Michael Carbel was one of the five, taking one of four hill sprints on the day. At the first passage through Vejle after 135 km the group had fallen apart, with the peloton only a minute behind. Mads Pedersen made a move on the steep Gl. Kongevej/Chr. Winthersvej and bridged to the group with Carbel, but they were caught soon afterwards.

 

However, Mads Pedersen didn’t give up, attacked again a few kilometres later and made it to the front group. Five riders started the first ascent of the steep Kiddesvej together; here Pedersen dropped his companions and continued solo. On the first of three laps of the finishing circuit Pedersen kept a small advantage on the peloton that could never ease up. On the second Kiddesvej ascent Alexander Kamp attacked, easily recognisable in his Danish champion’s outfit, passed Mads Pedersen and brought about a selection that a.o. got rid of overall leader Daniele Bennati.

 

Team Stölting Service Group was now represented in the front group by Kamp, Pedersen and Rasmus Guldhammer who grew up in Vejle. Pedersen worked hard for his teammates, pulling one last time at the start of the penultimate Kiddesvej ascent with 6 km to go before dropping off. After the ascent, a front group of eight had formed including Rasmus Guldhammer and Alexander Kamp, but several riders came back from behind, meaning that about 20 riders started the final ascent together.

 

Here, Valgren put in the decisive attack; Alexander Kamp wasn’t in the very first positions and had to leave a gap on the climb. He could almost close this gap and eventually finished second on a very selective stage. Rasmus Guldhammer came in as 8th. Valgren takes the overall lead, Kamp is now third overall, with Guldhammer just behind in sixth.

 

After the stage, Alexander Kamp said:

 

“Today we saw a great effort by the whole team. Mads opened up the race and rode really strong, almost like a motorbike. The last time up Kiddesvej I’m a bit too far behind, boxed in by weaker riders who couldn’t follow Valgren’s attack, so I didn’t get on his wheel immediately. It was my mistake, and it cost me the stage win. I’m disappointed not to win today as that was my target for the race. I will do my best in the time trial tomorrow, but it’s far from my specialty, so I don’t think I will keep my podium place.”

 

Sports Director André Steensen explained the tactics on the stage:

 

“We wanted to put someone in the break, that ended up being Michael Carbel,” he said. “Our hope was that they would last a bit longer, then we could have put real pressure on the other teams from 30 km to go, when Mads attacked for the second time. But Tinkoff may have smelled a rat, and the break was caught early.”

 

Steensen continued:

 

“For a long time, the stage wasn’t raced hard, so we hard to go early. Mads sacrificed his own ambitions in order to make the race hard, opening up possibilities for Rasmus and Alexander Kamp in the peloton. Otherwise they’d just have rolled into Vejle, the peloton would have been 80 riders on the finishing circuits, making for a much easier stage. It was a strong performance by Mads, he put pressure on the peloton, Tinkoff had to suffer, and then Rasmus and Alexander did great on the finishing circuits. They tried time and again, and in the end Alexander almost made it. But Valgren is a great rider and was the best today. We made the race, raced for the win and gave it all, so I’m satisfied.”

 

Laurens De Vreese: I am not a TT specialist

"The only thing I can do is to give my best. I'm not a time trial specialist, but the undulating course can help me,” said Astana’s Laurens De Vreese, ninth in the GC, “

 

"Today was a very hard stage,” he continued. “I've been with the front riders and I l only ost some meters on the final climb."

 

"The boys have been fighting and I'm pleased,” commented sport director Dmitri Sedoun. “In addition to De Vreese, Lars Boom and Arman Kamyshev were fighting in the first positions of the bunch."

 

De Vreese is ninth at 24 seconds.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo drop of contention in Danish queen stage

Dennis van Winden flew team LottoNL-Jumbo’s colours today with a 11th place in the queen stage of the Tour of Denmark. Martijn Keizer and Tom Van Asbroeck attacked in the final part of the third stage, but didn’t gain much space. Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) won the stage and grabbed the overall lead.

 

“We expected the race to end up like this,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. “It was quite a tough stage and we didn’t know exactly if it would suit us or not. Martijn Keizer’s attack wasn’t able to change the race, unfortunately. Sometimes, you have to dare to try something to have a beautiful result. Together, we tried to make the most of it, but only Dennis van Winden was able to finish in front.”

 

Martijn Keizer attacked with 30 kilometres to go. Two riders went with him, and Tom Van Asbroeck bridged to him afterwards.

 

“I tried to make a move to surprise the best riders in the race,” Keizer added. “I was looking forward to this stage, so it actually wasn’t that smart to make this move, but I suddenly saw a chance to do it.

 

“Tomorrow, we have to race the time trial and that’s one that suits me. I’m extra motivated for it after today.”

 

Bora-Argon 18 with an eye on the mountains jersey in Denmark

5 riders were in the break of the day including Lukas Pöstlberger. Pöstlberger did fight hard on the front for the KOM jersey, but had to settle for 2nd at the end of the day. The break was caught with about 20k to go when they entered the finishing circuit. Then an elimination race started in the peloton. In the last lap just around 20 riders were in the first group. Bora-Argon 18 had 3 riders in there with José Mendes, Scott Thwaites and Christoph Pfingsten.

 

Best Bora-Argon 18 rider was José Mendes in 13th place. In the GC Scott Thwaites is now the best placed rider of the team.

 

“Today we were in control of the race more or less all the time. We had Lukas in the group who almost took the KOM jersey. We will see if he can also fight for it the next days. Also in the final we had 3 riders in the first group, which was really good. But in the end they did not have the legs to fight for the podium today,” sports director Steffen Radochla said.

 

Novo Nordisk in the mix in Danish queen stage

For the second consecutive day, Team Novo Nordisk was aggressive from the start. Chris Williams was the first rider to attack and when his group was reeled in, James Glasspool immediately jumped on the wheel of the next attacker. This eagerness continued but despite the team’s best efforts, they missed out on the five-rider break that eventually got free on Stage 3 of the Tour of Denmark.

 

The 180-kilometer stage concluded with three 5.6-km laps on a circuit featuring a 21 percent climb up Kiddesvej. As the escapees reached the climb for the first time, all but one rider was reeled in by a reduced peloton. Despite a very hard crash on the day before, Team Novo Nordisk’s David Lozano made this front group. On the second lab, the chase group began to splinter. By the final lap, attacks flew but the race came down to 20 riders with Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) holding on for the win and moving into the overall race lead. Lozano finished in 31st position, 1:10 behind Valgren.

 

“I was in the lead group heading into the finishing circuits where I really tried to follow every attack, but I think this meant I expended too much energy on the first two laps,” Lozano said. “By the last climb, I focused on getting up the hill and then giving it my all at the finish. We are racing in the home of our title sponsor so we need to give 100 percent.”

 

“Even after my crash yesterday, my legs felt good. I know I have the form, but it came down to a brief moment where I hesitated for a second,” Team Novo Nordisk’s Charles Planet said. “In that moment, suddenly I was chasing and couldn’t make it back up to David’s group. I learned a lot from this experience. Just last year, I was in gruppetto on this stage. Today, I was a minute back.”

 

Difficult day for ONE Pro Cycling in Danish queen stage

Once again there was a lot of action from the gun and ONE Pro Cycling were aiming to have representation in the break but this didn’t come into fruition as a group of 5 riders slipped off the front. With the peloton happy to let the leaders go and quickly gain a decent advantage, everything settled down in the bunch.

The team rode as a unit coming into the difficult section of the race with 80km’s to as they protected the best-placed riders on GC, Martin Mortensen and Kristian House.

 

Coming into the final 60kms Danish rider Sebastian Lander clipped off the front of the bunch with one other rider to try and get some sliding space so he could provide some support for Mortensen and House, which he did very well.

 

On the final lap the field had split to pieces and Kristian House put in a big effort on the front to try and deliver Martin Mortensen into the best possible position for the line. Going into the final climb, a group of 15 riders attacked and managed to get a small gap on what was left of the bunch, as everyone left in their wake continued to fight for position.

 

Mortensen ultimately finished 43rd.

 

Mads Würtz slips out of contention in Danish queen stage

Mads Würtz Schmidt slipped from second to 19th in the overall standings.

 

“Mads misses those 5-6% to be up there.  His teammates were fighting for him all the way. [Mads] Rahbek, [Daniel] Foder and [Niklas] Eg fight and suffer in front of him and they pass a lot of groups. He lost one minute, but without them he would have lost five,” Virtu Pro sports director Ricky Enø says.

"We failed today, but now he just has to go out and show what he can do tomorrow. And then we will see what we can achieve. Today the team did a fabulous effort that made it possible minimize the loss," sayd the sports director.

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