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Having spent the entire day in a break, Putt beat Cartier in a two-rider sprint to win stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta; Joyce won the bunch sprint for fifth and retained the lead

Photo: Feltet.dk

ALEXIS CARTIER

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COLIN JOYCE

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HAGENS BERMAN AXEON

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TANNER PUTT

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TOUR OF ALBERTA

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TYLER WILLIAMS

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UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING

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03.09.2016 @ 00:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tanner Putt (Unitedhealthcare) took the biggest win of his career when he came out on top on a wet, cold and windy second stage of the Tour of Alberta. Having spent almost the entire stage in the breakaway, he finally beat Alexis Cartier (Canada) in a 2-rider sprint before Tyler Williams (Axeon) took third 10 seconds later. Race leader Colin Joyce (Axeon) won the bunch sprint for fifth and so retained the overall lead.

 

For several years, Tanner Putt has been described as a rider with potential for the classics. Strong on short climbs, powerful on the flat and fast in a sprint, the Unitedhealthcare rider has shown promise in some of the hard European races even though he has mostly been riding in the North America.

 

With his love for the classics, it was only fitting that Putt took the biggest win of his career on a wet and windy second stage of the Tour of Alberta. The weather conditions and terrain made it very similar to a northern classic and Putt made use of the tough conditions to take a breakthrough victory.

 

Knowing that the big teams have no sprinter in the race, Putt knew that a breakaway had a chance to make. He joined the early move and after he was brought back following some crosswinds action at the midpoint, he attacked again. He got Alexis Cartier for company and the national team rider turned out to be the ideal companion as he was content with riding for second place. As Axeon didn’t get much help in the chase, the pair managed to stay away and in the end, Putt easily beat his companion in the sprint to take the biggest win of his career.

 

After the hilly opening stage, the sprinters were expected to come to the fore on stage.  The 182km from Kananaskis to Olds consisted of a long downhill run for most of the day. However, there was a solid challenge at the midpoint when the riders tackled a rather tough climb but the top came with 96.5km to go. From there, it was a gradual descent until the road gradually flattened out for the final 30km, with the sprint being slightly uphill.

 

The riders had dry conditions when they gathered for the start and headed out for their neutral ride. The start was delayed a bit as Antoine Duchesne (Canada) suffered a mechanical but the stage finally got underway.

 

As expected, there were many attacks right from the start and it Bailey McKnight (H&R) who got the first significant advantage. Just as light rain started to fall, he was reabsorbed by the bunch and the attacking could start again.

 

Edgar Pinto (Skydive) and Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) were the next riders to get clear before Peter Stetina (Trek) and Mackenzie Brennan (Holowesko) made it across. That move didn’t stick either and then Peter Disera (H&R) but he was soon brought back. Hence, things were still together after 30km of fast racing.

 

While many riders suffered punctures on the rough roads, a small group finally managed to escape when Tanner Putt (Unitedhealthcare), Ulises Cstillo (Jelly Belly), Travis Samuel (H&R), Chad Young (Axeon), Brennan, Rob Britton (Rally), Ivan Santaromita (Skydive), Gregory Rast (Trek), David Galarreta Ugarte (Amore e Vita) and Matteo Dal-Cin (Silber) got clear. They were soon brought back but Putt and Samuel refused to give up. This time they were joined by Alexis Cartier (Canada) and as the peloton finally slowed down, they built an advantage of 2 minutes.

 

While Putt beat Samuel and Cartier in the first intermediate sprint, the peloton kept them on a tight leash, reducing the gap to just 1.15. At the same time, the weather got worse, with hard rain and stronger wind making things tough.

 

Samuel was dropped as they tackled the only climb on the stage and then Putt beat Cartier in the KOM sprint. Samuel was third across the line before Danilo Celano (Amore e Vita) and Matthieu Jeannes (Lupus) sprinted for fourth place, with the Italian coming out on top. Rast and Young were next across the line.

 

The climb had shattered the field and as they hit a windy section, Holowesko split the front group into pieces. Suddenly, there were five big groups on the road.

 

At the 96km mark, Toms Skujins (Cannondale), race leader Colin Joyce (Axeon), Robin Carpenter, Andzs Flaksis, Joe Lewis, Travis McCabe and Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko) joined the two leaders as the Holowesko riders did an impressive team time trial to put the rest of the field in difficulty. 25 riders had gathered 20 seconds further back and after a hard chase they caught the leaders.

 

Just as the junction was made, Putt and Cartier went again and as the peloton slowed down after the hectic phase, they suddenly managed to open an advantage again. The peloton regrouped a bit and 45 riders gathered behind the front duo which continued to increase the gap.

 

Axeon took time to regroup before they gathered their troops on the front and so the gap had gone out to 2.25 as they hit the final 55km. They didn’t get any help apart from a single turn from an Amore e Vita rider and so the gap continued to grow. With 40km to go, it was 2.55.

 

Eddie Dunbar was doing most of the work for the Axeon team, with the rest of the peloton happy to sit on after a hectic start. However, the continental team had a hard time controlling things alone and so the gap was still 2.35 as they hit the final 30km. Meanwhile, Stijn Devolder (Trek) abandoned.

 

There was finally some help for the Axeon team when Holowesko came to the fore to lend a hand but nonetheless the gap was still more than 2 minutes as they entered the final 20km. That’s when the fight for position started and it was the Holowesko team that took control.

 

As they took a turn with 15km to go, Cannondale tried to attack in the crosswinds, with Skujins and Alex Howes both taking huge turns. However, splits didn’t really appear and when they stopped their attack with 10km to go, Dunbar returned to the front.

 

The action had brought the gap down to a minute and after a small hesitation, Brennan started to chase for Holowesko. With limited horsepower, Ryan Roth (Silber) saw an opportunity to attack and he got an immediate advantage.

 

Roth did his best to stay clear but with 6km to go, he was brought back by the peloton which was led by Axeon, Rally and Holowesko. The gap was still a minute and so time was running out for the peloton.

 

With 5k to go, GC rider Evan Huffman (Rally) put his rivals under pressure by launching a strong attack. Tyler Williams (Axeon) stayed glued to his wheel to protect Joyce’s lead.

 

While Huffman dug deep in an attempt to stay away, Putt attacked Cartier and briefly looked like he had made the difference. However, an impressive effort but the Canadian allowed him to get back and he managed to respond again when Putt made his next move just before the flamme rouge.

 

Putt led the pair under the flamme rouge and then Cartier took over. Apparently content with riding for second place, the Canadian set the pace until Putt launched the sprint with 250m to go. Cartier had no response and so Putt had plenty of time to celebrate the win.

 

Hitting the final kilometres, Cannondale created some small splits in the peloton as they tried to set Alex Howes up for the sprint. However, they failed to catch the two chasers and it was Williams who took third with a time loss of 10 seconds, 3 second ahead of Huffman.

 

Race leader Colin Joyce managed to come around Howes to take fifth, losing 15 seconds to Putt, and so he retained the lead of 7 seconds over the Cannondale rider. He faces a more difficult test tomorrow when the riders will tackle the famous Canadian dirt roads during the 181.2km from Clearwater County to Drayton Valley. The terrain is predominantly flat and only includes two small climbs, one at the 31.4km mark and one just before the finishing circuit with 20.1km to go. There will be a total amount of 7km of gravel. In the end, the riders will do three laps of a very technical, flat circuit.

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