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Russian makes it into late break under torrential rain and launches attack on final lap to take a convincing solo win while crowd favourite Nordhaug has to settle for fourth

Photo: Einar Landa






16.08.2013 @ 19:50 Posted by Frederik Palle Pedersen

The Norwegians all hoped that Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) would take the spoils on the first stage of the inaugural Tour de Fjords as the crowd favourite had made it into a late breakaway. However, Sergey Chernetskiy emerged as the strongest from the 4-rider group and the young Russian ended up taking a big breakthrough win in solo fashion and the first leader's jersey in the race.


Sergey Chernetskiy has turned heads in his first professional season, recently finishing 7th in the Vuelta a Burgos and 18th in the Tour de Pologne. Many had the idea that he was knocking on the door for his first big win.


That victory came even earlier than many had expected when the Russian soloed across the line on the first stage of the inaugural Tour de Fjords which kicked off today. The Katusha rider had made it into a late 4-rider break on the final two laps in Stavanger and with big favourite Alexander Kristoff sitting in the peloton behind, he had a reason for not doing any work in the front group.


That allowed him to save energy for a race late attack and he left behind crowd favourite Lars-Petter Nordhaug who had been one of the instigators of the move. He crossed the line with a comfortable 17-second gap over his chasers to take the first leader's jersey in the new race.


He will take his lead into tomorrow's busy day which starts with a 100km lumpy stage that could in a sprint. In the evening, the riders are set to tackle a 24km team time trial which is likely to have a crucial impact on the final GC in the 4-stage race.


A new race

Less than a week after the conclusion of one brand-new Norwegian stage race, the next one kicked off. In cold and rainy conditions, the inaugural Tour des FJords started with a 200km stage from Valle to Stavanger. A couple of climbs at the mid-point made for a hard day in the saddle but the race finished with two laps on a mostly flat 12,5km finishing circuit, thus making a bunch sprint the most likely outcome.


The race was off to an aggressive start as many of the smaller continental teams wanted to get into the early break. At first they missed out when Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen) escaped on his own just before the first climb of the day


A front duo is formed

Team Plussbank refused to give up and so they sent Amund Jansen off in pursuit. The young Norwegian made it across to form what would be the day's early break.


Belkin decided to race hard on the climb which forced many riders to lose contact with the peloton. At the summit, the Dutch team did, however, ease off, allowing most of the riders to rejoin the main group. Instead, Katusha started to control the pace for favourite Alexander Kristoff who hoped to emerge as the strongest in the expected bunch sprint.


Katusha leads the chase

The gap was allowed to go up to more than 5 minutes before Katusha started to chase in earnest. Stagiaire Sergey Nikolaev and Maxim Belkov did much of the early work to reduce the gap.


With the gap down to just a minute, Katusha suddenly decided to stop their chase and as nobody took over, anarchy ruled. Marco Minaard (Rabobank) and Oscar Landa (Østerhus-Ridley) were the first to attack and from then moves kept going off the front.


 All back together

Michael Valgreen (Team Cult), Vegard Breen (Joker-Merida), Rüdiger Selig (Katusha), Jack Bobridge (Belkin), Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Minaard got clear and they made it across to the front duo. Moments later, it was, however, all back together, just as the riders approached the first passage of the finish line.


More attacks ensued and suddenly Chernetskiy, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Mike Teunissen (Rabobank) found themselves with a solid gap over the pelotons. As both ProTeams had a rider in the move, it was not clear who had to take responsibility for the chase and so counterattacks kept going until Joker-Merida finally assumed the position on the front of the peloton.


More attacks

Being unable to close the gap, the Norwegian team decided to try to bridge across and that just started another flurry of attacks. Marco Haller (Katusha) got a gap and tried to join the front group but got company from behind as a couple of Belkin riders and Tony Hurel (Europcar) joined up with the Austrian.


That group was brought back together as they headed onto the final lap. The front group now had a 45-second gap and as all the chase work was left to Joker-Merida, it seemed likely that they would stay away. Belkin kept disrupting the chase by launching riders up the road and so the chase never got organized.


The front group splits up

When it was clear that the peloton would not catch the front quartet, Teunissen attacked on a small climb. Nordhaug countered and only Chernetskiy could respond, the Russian having saved plenty of energy by sitting on in the front group.


The Russian tried a move on his own a little later and this time Nordhaug had no response. Chernetskiy got clear on his own and kept extending his advantage all the way to the finish line.


Nordhaug was caught by Waeytens and Teunissen with the latter emerging as the fastest in the sprint for 2nd. Florian Senechal(Etixx) led the peloton across the line with a 52-second time loss, thus giving Chernetskiy a clear lead on the eve of a very busy Saturday.



1. Sergey Chernetskiy 5.19.35

2. Mike Teunissen +0.17

3. Zico Waeytens

4. Lars Petter Nordhaug

5. Florian Senechal +0.52

6. Jetse Bol

7. Tom Van Asbroeck

8. Stan Godrie

9. Rüdiger Selig

10. Sep Vanmarcke


General classification:

1. Sergey Chernetskiy


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