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"We had to drop Kristoff, who's normally a sprinter but who can climb, too," Elijzen said to the Belkin website. "In the end, it was Spilak who was very strong, but Kruijswijk was on a good day, too."

Photo: Belkin Pro Cycling Team






16.08.2014 @ 18:04 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Steven Kruijswijk of the Belkin Pro Cycling Team assumed the overall lead at the 2014 Arctic Tour of Norway on Saturday, climbing to second place behind winner Simon Spilak of Katusha in the race's 132km third stage from Alta to Kvænangsfjellet pass.


The duo finished 15 seconds ahead of the main peloton, led by Belkin's Jonathan Hivert of France, who took the sprint for third place.


Kruijswijk, 27, now leads the Arctic Tour overall with an advantage of 8 seconds over Belkin teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug, who led the tour of his home country since winning the race's first stage on Thursday. Hivert moved into fifth place overall, at +0:24.


The stage, which began in Alta, Norway's City of the Northern Lights, wound its way along the scenic northern coast of Norway's Finnmark region before reaching the climb to Kvænangsfjellet pass, at 410 meters above sea level.


Belkin Pro Cycling Team Director Michiel Elijzen said the team worked hard to keep its top three contenders — Kruijswijk, Nordhaug and Hivert — as fresh as possible before the finale, knowing Katusha would be on the offensive. Belkin's main concern, he said, was distancing Alexander Kristoff of Katusha, who won Friday's stage in a bunch sprint.


"We controlled the stage today, trying to make the pace as hard as possible to the beginning of the final climb. We had to drop Kristoff, who's normally a sprinter but who can climb, too," Elijzen said to the Belkin website. "In the end, it was Spilak who was very strong, but Kruijswijk was on a good day, too."


When the attacks came, it was Kruijswijk who was able to go with the winning move. He said he thought of trying to win the stage, as well.


"I went with Spilak when he attacked. I went as hard as I could to follow him," Kruijswijk said. "With 500 meters to go I tried to pass him but it was not possible."


The Arctic Tour of Norway concludes Sunday with the 165km fourth stage, which begins and ends in Tromsø, Northern Norway's largest city. "I predict a bunch sprint tomorrow," said Elijzen. "I don't think it will be a problem for us to maintain the lead. Keeping the jersey on the team is the most important thing."



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