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With a powerful attack on the final climb of Kiddesvej, Valgren rode to a solo win on the queen stage of the Tour of Denmark, beating Kamp, Marcato and Mygind by two seconds; the Dane also took the overall lead

Photo: / Henriette Brandt








29.07.2016 @ 17:44 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).


Two years ago Michael Valgren confirmed the potential he had shown by winning the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege twice when he won his national tour, the Tour of Denmark, overall. Since then he has gone on to shine on the bigger scene, most notably at the Amstel Gold Race where he finished second earlier this year.


Back then, Valgren was fortunate to win the race as it was only team tactics that allowed him to distance teammate Manuele Boaro in the final sprint stage to Copenhagen. This year he returned to the race in a completely different position as he went into the event as the pre-race favourite.


After solid showings in the first two stages, most notably with a near-miss in yesterday’s second stage, Valgren proved that he deserves his status by emerging as the strongest in the queen stage. The Dane attacked from the bottom of the 21% wall of Kiddesvej and narrowly held off a small chase group to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.


After two days in flat terrain, it was time for the queen stage which brought the riders over 177.9km. After a relatively flat start with just two smaller climbs, the stage was expected to turn into an elimination race when the riders got to the climbs around Vejle. It kicked off when the riders hit the Østengaard climb and the very steep Chr. Winthersvej after around 130km of racing and then they hit the finishing circuit where they tackled the 21% climb of Kiddesvej for the first time. In the end, they did three laps of the classic 5.6km circuit that included the brutally steep wall just 700m from the slightly uphill finale.


All the riders that reached the finish yesterday were present when the riders took the start under a cloudy sky. As soon as the flag was dropped, a Riwal rider launched an attack and this set the scene for an aggressive opening phase. Lars Boom (Astana), Erik Baska, Michael Gogl (Tinkoff) and Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) were among the many active riders and they were all part of a big group that briefly got clear. That was too dangerous and so it was brought back.


After a few more attacks, Nicolai Brøchner (Riwal), Aime De Gendt (Topsport), Michael Carbel (Stölting), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Argon 18) and Torkil Veyhe (Denmark) managed to escape and when they had built an advantage of more than a minute, the latter punctured out of the group. He had to wait a long time to get a wheel change and then set off in lone pursuit of his former companions, 1.30 behind the front group.


After 18km of racing, the gap had gone out to 3.40 and it went out to 4.45 before Tinkoff hit the front of the peloton with Erik Baska and Michal Kolar. They quickly shaved 30 seconds off the lead. Meanwhile, Veyhe approached the front group and found himself 45 seconds behind the leaders with 150km to go.


With a bit of help from his team car, Veyhe rejoined the front group which was kept under control by Kolar and Baska. However, they were not chasing hard yet and so the gap had gone out to 5.45 as they entered the final 130km.


That was the signal for Wanty-Groupe Gobert to kick into action as Danilo Napolitano hit the front to share the work with the two Tinkoff riders. The Italian was eager to set Marco Marcato up for victory and started to slowly bring the gap down.


Approaching the first KOM sprint, Veyhe tried to launch a long sprint but he was quickly passed by his rivals. Instead, Carbel narrowly held off Brøchner to pick up maximum points, with De Gendt taking third and Pöstlberger fourth.


Napolitano helped bring the gap down to 5.15 before he swung off and as Baska and Kolar were not chasing yet, the gap suddenly went out to more than 6 minutes. The Italian then returned to the front but that didn’t stop the gap from going out to almost seven minutes as they hit the final 100km.


A confident Mads Würtz sent three of his Virtu Pro teammates to work with Baska, Kolar and Napolitano. That had a big effect on the gap which had been reduced to 4.15 with 90km to go and 3.20 15km later.


Astana decided to put their rival teams under pressure by sending Gatis Smukulis off in a solo attack and he quickly got an advantage of a minute. Moments later, Brøchner beat Carbel, De Gendt and Pöstlberger comfortably in the second KOM sprint.


Sebastian Lander (ONE) took off in pursuit of Smukulis who waited for the Dane and the pair started to cooperate in an attempt to reach the front group. Meanwhile, Virtu Pro again stopped their work and left it to Kolar, Baska and Napolitano to lead the chase.


With 50km to go, the gaps were 0.30 and 2.05 respectively and it didn’t take long for Smukulis and Lander to close the final bit of the gap. That didn’t do anything good for the cooperation as Pöstlberger and Brøchner launched an immediate attack on the third climb and the Austrian soon dropped his companion to win the KOM sprint. De Gendt was third and Veyhe fourth.


In the peloton, Pavel Brutt took over the pace-setting for Tinkoff and the Russian single-handedly did a massive job to keep the gap stable at around 1.45 while Pöstlberger pressed on alone. He crested the summit of the fourth climb as the lone leader while the peloton splintered to pieces. Brøchner was second in the KOM sprint, followed by Veyhe and De Gendt.


Mads Pedersen (Stölting) used the climb to take off and he quickly bridged the gap to Carbel, Smukulis, Brøchner and Lander who had gathered behind Pöstlberger. However, they were only 30 seconds ahead of the peloton which was 1.30 behind Pöstlberger with 40km to go.


Manuele Boaro and Brutt reduced the gap to Pöstlberger to 30 seconds before Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) bridged the gap to Veyhe who was on his own behind Pöstlberger. The pair joined the lone Austrian and the trio hit the final 30km with an advantage of 30 seconds.


Boaro and Brutt kept riding on the front but they were unable to prevent Pedersen and Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) from bridging the gap to make it a quintet. However, they quickly lost ground and as Bora-Argon 18 also started to chase, the gap came down to 10 seconds.


On a small climb close to the circuit, Pöstlberger was dropped from the front group. Moments later, they hit Kiddesvej for the first time and here Pedersen dropped his companions. The rest of the break was brought back by the peloton which was led by Lars Boom (Astana).


Pedersen crossed the line for the first time with an advantage of 7 seconds but he failed to extend the gap as Boaro was chasing hard. That allowed Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) to bridge the gap on the lower slopes of the second passage of the climb but both were passed by Alexander Kamp (Stölting) who sprinted to the top, building a small advantage over a chase group. Further back, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Virtu Pro) exploded completely and was paced to the finish by three teammates.


At the second passage of the line, Kamp had a small advantage over a chase group that was led by Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) and Rasmus Guldhammer (Stölting). They quickly caught the lone Dane and then a regrouping took place, with a 30-rider group being gathered. Würtz managed to rejoin the group.


Pedersen worked hard on the front to set up leaders Kamp and Guldhammer. He sat the pace all the way to the bottom of the climb and then made a big acceleration before he swung off.


Magnus Cort (Denmark) launched a big attack to create an 8-rider group that also included Marco Marcato (Wanty), Sjoerd van Ginneken (Roompot), Lars Boom (Astana), Michael Valgren, Michael Gogl(Tinkoff), Rasmus Guldhammer and Kamp (Stölting). Further back, race leader Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) exploded.


Marcato attacked to cross the line with a small advantage but he was quickly brought back. Boom also gave it a go but a bigger group again came back together.


John Ebsen (ONE) and Zardini attacked and got a small advantage as they entered the final 4km. Boom and Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani) made the junction and the quartet started to cooperate.


Bardiani gave chase and brought the attackers back with 2.5km to go and then Zardini set a fast pace as they headed to the climb for the final time. The Italian led the group onto the ascent and then everything exploded.


Valgren launched a big attack but failed to distance Rasmus Mygind (Riwal) and Marcato. The quartet had a small advantage over a small group as they reached the top.


Valgren didn’t look back and just kept riding on the front. He even managed to build a small gap of 2 seconds before he sat up to celebrate the victory. Kamp beat Marcato in the sprint for second while Cort crossed the line in fifth, four seconds further adrift


With the win, Valgren takes over the blue leader’s jersey from teammate Bennati and now leads Cort by five seconds, with Kamp sitting two seconds further adrift in third. He now faces another key test in tomorrow’s crucial 19.6km time trial around the city of Nyborg. The roads are narrow and winding but there aren’t many challenges when it comes to the terrain as the course is almost completely flat and suited to big specialists.



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