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"I’ve had a couple of solid stage wins, but winning the overall like this is pretty important for me. It’s confirmation of my abilities as a GC contender. I’m a good all-rounder."

Photo: Sirotti


06.09.2016 @ 15:12 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.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Robin Carpenter: This is the confirmation of my abilities as a GC rider

"We have big wins, but this is the biggest one I’ve had ever," Robin Carpenter said in the post race press conference. "I’ve had a couple of solid stage wins, but winning the overall like this is pretty important for me. It’s confirmation of my abilities as a GC contender. I’m a good all-rounder; not great at anything but pretty good at everything. So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about the win. I can't really say more than that.


"The rest of the team rode out of their skin today. They believed in me more than I believed in myself, so I have to thank them a lot for the confidence boost and just riding as a team. It’s a team sport and people kind of forget that, but I owe everything this week to my team, for not only riding the front today, but helping me save energy all week. If there was a little bit of a crosswind or we were riding in the gutter, there was always somebody there to help me.”


"I've grown a lot in terms of my time trialing. When you pair that with a little bit more savvyness that it usually takes to get in a breakaway, then you come out with a solid GC rider for stage races that are more middling and not super climbing focused, but also not totally flat,” he told Cyclingnews


"Nobody has called me [about 20017], but I'm not too worried about it I really love what I do now. I've said before that I'm mostly just happy to get paid to ride my bike, wherever that is. I love my team and I have a great time with my teammates, so we'll see what happens. If the right opportunity comes around, then who knows, but that's about all I can say." 


Francisco Mancebo: I needed a little bit of luck

"I tried with 1km to go, and I needed a little luck because the pack was so close on the last two laps," Mancebo said. "On the hard climb I looked behind me and I saw the jersey of the leader, and they were only about 10 seconds behind me, so I had a little bit of luck.


"For me it is the first win of the season, and it’s the first time in America for my team, so for us this is a very, very important victory."


Bauke Mollema: We tried everything to win the race

Bauke Mollema finished with the peloton in the final stage in the Tour of Alberta to secure second place overall behind overall winner Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel). Mollema, who won the overall in 2015, fell one second short in a much flatter Tour of Alberta that favored sprinters and all-rounders. 


Same as the two previous years, the Tour of Alberta concluded with the Edmonton circuit race, but the short climbs and fast course offered little opportunity to shake up the general classification. But it did not stop Trek-Segafredo from trying.


Peter Stetina and Julian Arredondo represented the team in a 13-man breakaway that gained up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds, but under the pace from the rest of the team – trying to make a hard race in the final three laps – the gap fell steadily.


"We knew we had to make the race hard and try to isolate Carpenter from his team," explained Mollema. "In the last three laps we just went full, full gas on the climbs with Ryder (Hesjedal) and Fränk (Schleck), and so the gap to the breakaway got much smaller. And then at one point it was the plan that Pete and Julian would wait, and I would jump to them."


With two laps remaining the riders in the breakaway, sensing their time our front limited, began attacking. Three riders escaped while Stetina and Arredondo dropped back to the peloton to assist Mollema.


While the trio held a slim lead over the ensuing 22 kilometers, Trek-Segafredo continued to try and soften up the Carpenter and his team, but when Mollema attempted to jump away, Carpenter was ready.


"I tried with two laps to go on the steep climb after Greggy (Rast) went hard a few times, but it didn't work; I couldn't drop Carpenter. In the end, he only had a few teammates left, but the peloton was still quite big, and I knew it was over. Chapeau to him - he was strong and his team did a great job.


"It's a pity we couldn't do it, but I am very proud of how we raced today. The boys went all-in and showed a lot of commitment, and we really tried to win the GC."


Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai), the last remnant of the breakaway, ​managed to hold off the peloton by three seconds to take the stage win as the peloton sprinted for the minor places behind, leaving the final overall podium unchanged.


"It was a great battle for Bauke and the team," Hesjedal said. "The Holowesko team road like any top WorldTour team today. They really controlled the race and got the job done,  so that was great to see." 


Frustrating near-miss for Kristoffer Skjerping in Alberta

Cannondale-Drapac chased a stage victory in Edmonton on Monday to close out the Tour of Alberta in celebratory fashion. While the win was elusive, the effort more than commendable. Kristoffer Skjerping finished off fantastic teamwork by winning the crash-marred bunch sprint good for second place.


“As this was our final chance for a stage win we wanted to really go for it and have no regrets,” said Toms Skujinš, who spent most of the race in breakaways. 


Attacks began from kilometer zero with Green Argyle among the early instigators. When a group of 20 broke away from the peloton on the first of 11 circuit laps, Skujinš had made the selection. The Latvian played a key role in the escape’s continued success. As the gap tumbled between the leaders and the peloton in the penultimate lap, Skujinš went on the attack.


“Going into the final lap we had an advantage of 20 seconds, so we knew it’d be hard,” Skujinš said.


His aggression sparked the formation of a leading trio that included eventual stage six winner Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) and David Drouin (Silber).


In the final lap, Lawson Craddock and Danny Summerhill (UHC) bridged across the leaders. Collaboration in the group waned and Mancebo set off alone. The peloton overtook all but Mancebo in the run-in the line.


A crash in the finishing stretch disrupted the bunch sprint. Four seconds behind Mancebo, Skjerping out-kicked stage one winner Colin Joyce (Axeon Hagens Berman) to the line. Alex Howes finished on bunch time to retain ninth place on the general classification.


Breakthrough performance by Colin Joyce in Alberta

Colin Joyce capped a prolific week for the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team Sunday at the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial by taking home two jersey classifications and third on the final stage, plus fourth place overall.

The 22-year-old who lives and trains in Pocatello, Idaho, was one of the revelations of the five-day race. He captured Thursday's opening stage to notch his first UCI win and held the race lead through to Saturday. He wore the ATB Financial Best Young rider jersey from Stage 1 on and added the EllisDon Sprint jersey to his haul on Sunday.

"It was an amazing week for me, but it would not have been possible at all without the help and belief that all my teammates had in me," Joyce said. "I feel like they believed in me probably more so than I believed in myself. So for them to ride so hard for me was an amazing feeling. I am glad to repay them with a couple jerseys. So thanks to them for all they did."

In the overall standings, Joyce finished 18 seconds back of winner Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team presented by Hincapie Sportswear). The 2015 race winner, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), was runner-up, one second back. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) finished third, at seven seconds.

Francisco Mancebo, a 19-year professional who finished fourth at the 2005 Tour de France, soloed away in the final kilometers to win the final stage circuit race through Edmonton. In lap-by-lap data provided by One2Go Event Services, the 40-year-old from the Skybai Dubai Pro Cycling Team was the only rider to string together three consecutive laps faster than 15 minutes - all of them at the end of the 124.1-kilometer race. 

Axeon Hagens Berman's Eddie Dunbar was part of a breakaway group of five with Mancebo in the last six kilometers. But the Irish Under 23 national time trial champion played the role of perfect teammate, General Manager Axel Merckx said, by not working to keep the breakaway going.

"We had to make a decision in the last kilometers to try to go for Colin," Merckx said. "It played out for the green jersey. Unfortunately, Mancebo was gone, so Colin was second in the sprint. But we are really happy about the week. One of the goals going in o today was to win a stage or try to get the sprint jersey also because he was really close to that."

Joyce became the fourth Axeon Hagens Berman rider this season to take home at least two classifications at one race. Last month, Adrien Costa did it at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, winning the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountains classification and the Subaru Best Young Rider competition. U.S. national road champion Greg Daniel and Neilson Powless each earned three classifications - overall, best young rider and points - at the Tour de Beauce and the Joe Martin Stage Race, respectively.

Merckx said the team's Tour of Alberta performance was a fitting way to conclude the program's ninth year. Ten different riders contributed to a team-record 33 victories, which included seven national titles.

"I think it is probably one of our most successful seasons in the history of this program," Merckx said. "That is saying a lot, especially under the current WorldTour circumstances. We are doing a lot of big races now where we are racing the biggest teams. So I am very pleased and really proud of this team and this program. We are going to lose a bunch of good riders, but we know the deal. It is the same thing every year. So I am already looking forward to next year when we get to start all over again."



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