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Russian team takes a narrow 3-second win over Belkin in flat team time trial to consolidate its dominance of the inaugural Tour des Fjord, having won the first three stages and leading the race with Chernetskiy

Photo: Sirotti

KATUSHA ALPECIN

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SERGEY CHERNETSKIY

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SPORT VLAANDEREN - BALOISE

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TOUR DES FJORDS

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17.08.2013 @ 20:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The inaugural Tour des Fjords has developed into a Katusha show as the team has completely stamped its authority on the first three stages of the race. Having already won the first two stages, the team continued their streak by winning the evening team time trial with a narrow 3-second margin over Belkin, thus consolidating the overall lead of Sergey Chernetskiy.

 

With just 2 ProTeams lining up at the event, it was always expected that Katusha would play a significant role in the inaugural Tour des Fjords but few would have expected the team to dominate the event in the way that they have done so for. Sergey Chernetskiy and Alexander Kristoff won the first two road stages and today the team made it three in a row by also taking the victory in the evening team time trial.

 

The flat 24km course was perfectly suited to the team's powerful time trial specialists Maxim Belkov, Chernetskiy and Timofey Kritskiy while sprinters Marco Haller, Rüdiger Selig and Kristoff could also express themselves well in this kind of terrain. Already at the intermediate check, the team had put 11 seconds into Belkin and the squad appeared to be on its way to a crushing victory.

 

Their Dutch rivals finished strong, reducing their deficit on the second part of the course, but when Kristoff, Haller, Chernetskiy and Selig crossed the line, the clock showed a time that was 3 seconds faster than the one set by Belkin. Topsport Vlaanderen was far behind at the intermediate check but put down the hammer on the final part of the course to take 3rd, 20 seconds behind the stage-winning team.

 

With the win, the team consolidates Chernetskiy's overall lead as he now takes a 30-second advantage over 2nd-placed Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) into tomorrow's final stage. The 183km route is the toughest of the entire race with a late climb inside the final 10km, and Chernetskiy can expect to come under attack by the Belkin team which had showed an aggressive racing-style throughout their entire stay in Norway.

 

Ringeriks-Kraft with an early best time

Swedish People4You-Unaas was the first team down the ramp but with just 4 riders left in the race, the squad was never expected to have a major impact on the stage. Nonetheless, their time of 30.01 put them in the hot seat for quite some time as neither the Norwegian national team of Thor Hushovd now OneCo were able to beat them.

 

Ringeriks-Kraft had set a surprisingly good intermediate time to be equal with the usually stronger Joker-Merida team, and the Norwegians continued their good performance all the way to the line to lower the mark by 15 seconds. However, Joker-Merida was the next team to cross the line and the blue-clad riders had accelerated on the final part of the course, having distanced Ringeriks-Kraft by 19 seconds.

 

Cult takes the lead

Plussbank was unable to beat its fellow Norwegians and instead it was Danish Cult Energy who moved into the hot seat. 4 Danish riders crossed the line to stop the clock at 29.12, thus beating Joker-Merida by 15 seconds.

 

Champion System was unable to challenge the Danes, leaving it to local Øster Hus-Ridley to challenge the leading team. The Norwegian crowd went crazy when their local heroes took over the lead with a time of 28.59.

 

The bigger teams take the lead

The small continental team had set a time that larger teams like MTN-Qhubeka and Europcar were unable to match and the Czech Etixx-Ihned was also more than 30 seconds behind. With 4 teams still coming up, two of them being ProTeams, the Norwegians knew, however, that a win was still unlikely.

 

Topsport Vlaanderen lowered the mark by 19 seconds and moment later Belkin did their best to give home rider Lars Petter Nordhaug a shot at the overall win. Their time of 28.25 was 15 seconds faster than the one set by the Belgians and the Rabobank team was unable to match them.

 

The final team was the strongest though and when Katusha powered towards the line, it was clear that they would not only defend their race lead, they would also take their third consecutive stage win.

 

Result:

1. Katusha 28.22

2. Belkin +0.03

3. Topsport Vlaanderen +0.20

4. Øster Hus-Ridley +0.37

5. Rabobank +0.49

6. Team Cult Energi +0.50

7. Team Joker-Merida +1.05

8. Champion System +1.11

9. Etixx-Ihned +1.19

10. Ringeriks-Kraft +1.24

 

General classification:

1. Sergey Chernetskiy

 

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