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Beating Flaksis by 9 seconds, Mollema won the 12km time trial on stage 4 of the Tour of Alberta; Carpenter finished third and took the lead with an advantage of less than a second over Mollema

Photo: Sirotti

BAUKE MOLLEMA

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HOLOWESKO/CITADEL

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ROBIN CARPENTER

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TOUR OF ALBERTA

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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05.09.2016 @ 03:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Defending champion Bauke Mollema (Trek) took the first time trial victory of his career when he powered to victory on stage 4 at the Tour of Alberta, beating Andzs Flaksis (Holowesko) by 9 seconds. However, the day still ended in frustration as he missed out on the overall lead by fractions of a second to Robin Carpenter (Holowesko) who lost 16 seconds to the Dutchman in third place.

 

For years, Bauke Mollema has been one of the best stage racers in the world but for some reason the Dutchman failed to win a single stage race during his first many years as a pro. Last year he finally broke the drought when he won the third edition of the Tour of Alberta, a win that marked a bit of a turnaround and signaled what was to come in what turned out to be a bit of a breakthrough at this year’s Tour de France.

 

This year Mollema is back in Canada to defend his title but a new course has done nothing to improve his chances. This year there aren’t any big climbs and instead the race is set to be decided in four relatively flat stages and a crucial 12km time trial.

 

However, Mollema is up for the challenge and after an aggressive ride on the selective stage 1, he made it into the 11-rider breakaway that was set to play it out for the overall win in the final four stages. That put him in a good position for the final four stages but his chances suffered a major blow yesterday when Robin Carpenter and Evan Huffman escaped in the finale.

 

Mollema’s best chance to take back the time came in today’s race against the clock. Despite not known as a specialist, the Dutchman was the pre-stage favourite, given the progress he showed at the Tour de France, and he fully lived up to expectations as he blasted over the course in 14.44 to take his first individual stage win in the Canadian race.

 

Mollema was the fourth last rider to start and beat previous leader Andzs Flaksis by 9 seconds and then faced a nervous wait while the three riders ahead of him in GC did their TT. Colin Joyce (Axeon) was not expected to be a threat but both Carpenter and Huffman were dangers as both are known for their TT skills.

 

None of them were able to beat Mollema but the day still ended in frustration for the grand tour star. Carpenter stopped the clock in 15.00 to take third on the stage and as he had started the stage 16 seconds behind Mollema, the pair are now equal on time in the GC. However, Carpenter is fractions of a second better than the Trek captain and so takes the overall lead.

 

Huffman was maybe tipped as Mollema’s biggest rival but the race leader could only manage fifth on the stage, losing 23 seconds. Hence, he slipped to third, 5 seconds behind Carpenter and Mollema.

 

Mollema may find comfort in the fact that everything can change on the final day where there will be important bonus seconds up for grabs. The riders will tackle an 11.9km circuit in Edmondton eleven times for an overall distance of 121km. It’s definitely not a flat affair as it includes two small climbs, one of them coming just around 1km from the top. Furthermore, it has a very technical finale with numerous turns inside the final kilometre. There will be bonus seconds on offer at the finish on laps 4 and 8.

 

A flat course

After three road stages, it was time for the stage that was widely regarded as the key stage, the time trial. At 12.1km, it was a pretty short stage but in a race decided by seconds was is likely to be crucial. It was held in the city of Edmondton and was made up of long, straight roads without any major technical challenges. However, there was a pretty tough climb of almost 2km after 7km of racing before the riders turned around and descended to the flat finish.

 

It was a sunny day in Canada when Jesse Anthony (Rally) rolled down the ramp as the first rider but his time was already beaten by the second rider on the course, Francisco Mancebo (Skydive), who stopped the clock in 15.47. That was three seconds faster than Peter Disera (H&R) who slotted into third. However, it was the sixth rider to hit the course, David Galarreta (Amore e Vita) who set an early best time of 15.41 that would stand for a little longer.

 

Best time for Hesjedal

Unsurprisingly, Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) beat Galareta with a time of 15.26 but he was beaten immediately by local hero Rob Britton (Rally) who lived up to expectations by stopping the clock in 15.24 to move into the hot seat. That was one second faster than Bryan Lewis (Lupus) who had to settle for second place. Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly) was also close as his time of 15.37 was also good enough for the top 5.

 

The crowds were jubilant when fan favourite Ryder Hesjedal (Trek) appeared on the finishing straight and he did a great final time trial of his pro career with a time of 15.21 that saw him take the lead and make it two Canadians in the top 2.who spent a long time in the lead as his time of 15.03 was 21 seconds faster. Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) was expected to be his first threat but the American had to settle for sixth with 15.34.

 

Disappointment for Roth

Redi Halilaj (Amore e Vita) posted the sixth best time of 15.28 before Peter Stetina (Trek) did a surprisingly good TT with a time of 15.25 that saw him slot into the top 5. However, it was Justin Oien (Axeon) who got closest to Hesjedal with a time of 15.24.

 

Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko) had a good ride to move into ninth with 15.32 but it was Canadian champion Ryan Roth (Silber) that everybody waited for. However, he had a disappointing day as 15.31 was only good enough for ninth.

 

Flaksis takes the lead

Gregory Rast (Trek) made it into the top 10 with 15.28 as did Eddie Dunbar (Axeon) who was just fractions of a second slower. Moments later, Adzs Flaksis blasted to the finish in 14.53 to finally knock Hesjedal out of the hot seat.

 

Jack Burke (H&R) posted the seventh best time of 15.25 but Mackenzie Brennan (Holowesko) did even better with 15.14 which was enough to take fourth. Joseph Lewis (Holowesko) then slotted into third with 15.08 before Frank Schleck (Trek) did well to post the 10th best time of 15.26.

 

Food ride by Williams

Kristoffer Skjerping was on a good day as his time of 15.08 was enough to take third and Kristoffer Dahl (Silber) posted the 10th best time before the GC battle between the 11 riders that made the break on stage 1, started. Tyler Williams (Axeon) kicked it off in a good way with a time of 15.10 that saw him move into fifth.

 

Nigel Ellsay (Silber) was unable to match Williams as his time of 15.22 was only good enough for 7th and Angus Morton (Jelly Belly) and Antoine Duchesne (Canada) were both far off the pace. Daniel Eaton (Unitedhealthcare) moved into the provisional lead with 15.11 which was the sixth best time so far,

 

Mollema wins the stage

Alex Cataford (Silber) was less than one second slower than Eaton in seventh but it was Mollema that everybody waited for. The Dutchman sprinted to the line in 14.44 to beat Flaksis by 9 seconds and then just had to wait for the final four riders.

 

Alex Howes (Cannondale) was not in contention but former leader Colin Joyce (Axeon) did well to take 7th with 15.13. Moments later, Carpenter appeared on the finishing straight and sprinted to the line in 15.00 to move into third. Finally, Huffman was the last rider to challenge Mollema but 15.08 was only good enough for fifth.

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