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After a perfect lead-out from Sinkeldam, Arndt narrowly held off Matthews in the bunch sprint on the final stage of the Tour of Alberta; Mollema responded to all attacks and took the overall win

Photo: Sirotti












07.09.2015 @ 23:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nikias Arndt capitalized on a rare chance to be the lead sprinter for Giant-Alpecin when he won the final stage of the Tour of Alberta in a bunch sprint. Having been given the perfect lead-out from Ramon Sinkeldam, he narrowly held off Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the bunch sprint while Bauke Mollema (Trek) finished safely in the main group to secure the overall victory.


In a Team Giant-Alpecin loaded with strong sprinters, it is hard to get a chance to lead the team in the bunch kicks. Nikias Arndt mostly plays the role of a lead-out man but on certain occasions, he is given his own opportunities.


The German proved his strength last year by taking a big WorldTour win in the Criterium du Dauphiné but since then he seems to have dropped a bit down in the hierarchy. However, the team made it clear that he would be the protected sprinter in the Tour of Alberta.


Arndt already got close to the win in stage 2 where he was narrowly beaten by Michael Matthews. Today he got his revenge when he beat the Australian in a close sprint on the final stage of the race which was held as a circuit race in Edmondton.


An 8-rider break had been brought back by the time, the riders started the final lap of the 11km circuit that included two small climbs. It was the Trek trio of Hayden Roulston, Marco Coledan and Jesse Sergent and Sven Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) that set a brutal pace which made it impossible for anyone to attack in the flat section leading to the first climb.


Here a Drapac rider took and he was joined by Ilnur Zakarin, Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), Ryder Hesjedal, Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) and another two riders but they were already brought back as they crested the summit. Zakarin and Formolo briefly got a small gap but Bora-Argon 18 wanted a sprint finish so they brought the duo back.


A Smartstop rider was the next to try but the Bora rider easily shut it down. Gregory Rast took over for Trek and led the group down the descent while Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) was looking for an opportunity to attack Bauke Mollema who was glued to his wheel.


A tactical game started as no one wanted to take control, with riders from Axeon and Guillaume Boivin (Optum) looking for an opportunity to attack. However, with 5km to go, Bora-Argon 18 lined out their troops on the front.


Just as this happened, Toms Skujins (Hincapie) who has already been in the early break, took off but Jan Barta slowly reeled him in for Bora-Argon 18. He also neutralized an attempt from David Winston (Lupus) as he prepared the sprint for Sam Bennett.


The Canadian stars wanted to show themselves as Hesjedal and Boivin attacked on the final climb but Paul Voss neutralized it as they entered the final 3km. Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly) made a move and he managed to get a small advantage.


That’s when the battle for the GC started as Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) took off. However, Mollema was glued to his wheel and as he refused to take any turns, Bora-Argon 18 brought it back together.


Katusha hit the front with Zakarin while Giant-Alpecin moved up next to them. Viacheslav Kuznetsov took over but he had lost his teammates and instead Giant-Alpecin took control with Tobias Ludvigsson.


Mollema briefly hit the front to stay safe before Ludvigsson again took over. Two Hincapie riders managed to pass the Giant riders but Ramon Sinkeldam and Nikias Arndt slotted in behind them.


Sinkeldam gave Arndt the perfect lead-out and the German started his sprint from the front. Michael Matthews had positioned him just behind the Giant-Alpecin rider and it came down to a close battle between the pair, with Arndt coming out on top. Dion Smith (Hincapie) finished third.


Mollema finished safely in the bunch and so took the overall victory with a 6-second advantage over Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE). Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) completed the podium, 16 seconds further adrift. Matthews could console himself with the win in the points competition and Ben Perry (Silber) was the best climber. Yates was the best young rider and Cannondale-Garmin won the teams competition.


With the Tour of Alberta done and dusted, a big part of the WorldTour riders in the race will move to Quebec and Montreal for the WorldTour races in those cities on Friday and Sunday. They will be joined by several Worlds contenders who will use the races to prepare for the battle for the rainbow jersey.


A hilly circuit

After yesterday’s chaotic stage, the Tour of Alberta finished with a short circuit race in Edmondton. The riders would do eleven laps of an 11km circuit in the Candian city for a total of 124.1km. With two smaller climbs of which the final one summited just a few hundred metres from the finish, it was expected to be a day for the puncheurs.


It was a cloudy, dry and cold day when the riders gathered for the start of the final challenge in the six-day race. With the hilly course being tailor-made for attacks, it was no surprise that the race got off to an aggressive start and no one managed to escape during the first lap.


An 8-rider break is formed

Unfortunately, Jasper Bovenhuis (Cannondale-Garmin) hit the deck and was forced to abandon while his teammate Kristoffer Skjerping launched an attack. The Norwegian was joined by Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon), Jonathan Hornbeck (Hincapie), Ben Perry (Silber) and Taylor Sheldon (Jelly Belly) to form a 5-rider break that quickly got a 30-second advantage. Perry won the first KOM sprint at the top of the climb as the fight with Benedetti for the mountains jersey continued.


The Hincapie pair of Toms Skujins and Ty Magner joined forces with Greg Daniel (Axeon) to bridge the gap to the leaders and it was an 8-rider group that had extended its advantage to 1.15 when Skujins beat Magner and Benedetti in the first intermediate sprint at the end of the fourth lap.


Trek in control

Trek were unwilling to let the situation under control so they put Marco Coledan, Jesse Sergent and Hayden Roulston on the front. The trio worked solidly to keep the gap stable at around a minute for a long time.


With 65km to go, Drapac also showed their intentions as they put William Clarke on the front. The Australian traded pulls with the three Trek riders to keep the situation under control, with the gap hovering around a minute for a few laps.


Shelden takes off

With 35km to go, Giant-Alpecin asked Fredrik Ludvigsson to contribute to the pace-setting but the gap was still around a minute when Benedetti beat Skujins and Skjerping in the next intermediate sprint at the start of the 9th lap. This prompted Orica-GreenEDGE to come to the fore with Svein Tuft and Jens Mouris and this had a big impact on the gap which was down to 30 seconds at the start of the penultimate lap.


As they hit the climb, Shelden launched the first attack from the breakaway and only Benedetti could stay with him. Skjerping, Daniel and Skujins formed a chase trio while the rest of the break fell further back


Tuft takes control

Further back, Katusha made the peloton explode to pieces as Sven Erik Bystrøm accelerated on the front. The Norwegian created a small group that made it up to Horneck, Perry and Skujins.


The chase trio made it back to the leaders while Orica-GreenEDGE managed to bring the Bystrøm group back and it was Svein Tuft who took some massive turns on the front as they entered the final 15km just 15 seconds behind the front quintet.


Tuft nearly brought the break back and so Benedetti decided to attack. He got an immediate gap before Skjerping decided to take off in pursuit while the rest of the group sat up.


Skjerping managed to rejoin Benedetti but just as the junction was made, Tuft, Coledan, Sergent and Roulston had brought the relatively big peloton back to the duo. Hence, everything was back together as they started the final lap.



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