Gianni Moscon (Sky) confirmed that he is the best neo-professional of the 2016 season when he claimed his first pro win in impressive fashion on the queen stage of the Arctic Race of Norway. The Italian attacked twice inside the final 2km of the Korgfjellet climb to first bridge across to a front trio and then ride to a solo victory and into the overall lead. Stef Clement (IAM) showed his good form by taking second while Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) won a sprint for third.
We have gathered several reactions.
Victorious Gianni Moscon: I still don’t know what kind of rider I am
Gianni Moscon powered to his first professional victory with a stunning solo attack on stage three of the Arctic Race.
The Italian hit the gas with a kilometre to go on the tough Korgfjellet climb and powered to an 11-second win, moving into the race lead by 15 seconds with just one day to go in Norway.
Sebastian Henao had covered what looked to be the decisive move on the final climb and Moscon was able to bridge across from what was left of the peloton before flying clear to take a memorable solo win.
Henao also hung on to finish seventh and move up to sixth overall, 36 seconds back on his team-mate, with Ben Swift and Lars Petter Nordhaug coming home 15th and 20th respectively after strong rides on a fantastic day for the team.
Nordhaug had been on the attack himself midway up the Korgfjellet, a 9km climb that maxed out at 7%, but he couldn't escape on home turf, while Moscon saved himself for one late decisive effort.
Danny van Poppel relinquished the race lead after slipping back from the bunch at the foot of the last climb, but he remains at the top of the points classification, and Team Sky remain at the top of the team classification.
A clearly delighted Moscon tried to put his emotions into words for TeamSky.com after the stage.
He said: "It's beautiful. It's an amazing feeling. I have no words to explain how I'm feeling! It's just fantastic.
"I knew I was coming to this race in very good shape. I did a lot of training before I came here and today was a good stage for me. I tried and I'm very happy.
"We did the same climb yesterday in the race and I saw the point when I thought I'd attack. There was three people in Sebastian's group and I thought it would be good to get across. I felt good, got across, then I tried again and just went to the finish.
"The last kilometre was really long, but when you know that you are going to win, you can give something more.
“When you pass the line to win your first pro race, it's an incredible feeling. I'm very happy for this win. I wanted to win today. I knew I have a good shape at the moment. This victory is good for the morale and for the last part of the season.
“It's the fruit of a great team work today. We chased the breakaway with Katusha. We went full gas on the first climbs. At the end I felt very good.
“To lead the Arctic Race of Norway is very nice. We've been through beautiful landscapes. It's my first time in Norway but I'll come again. It's a really nice country. It's an important race, very well organized with a lot of big teams taking part.
“I didn't think about the 500kg of salmon [prize for winning the stage] when I was racing but it's a very nice gift.
“I'm still searching this season what type of rider I am. I think I'm a good rouleur and climber but I don't know exactly which are my favourite courses. Every race I go to, I give my best. I've had this mentality since I started cycling and I want to continue this way.”
The team will now try to defend Moscon's lead on the fourth and final stage tomorrow.
He added: "Tomorrow should be a sprint stage but you never know. I will be very attentive to everything and of course I want to keep the lead!"
Matt Brammeier (Dimension Data), Daniel Oss (BMC), Steele Von Hoff (One Pro Cycling) and Leigh Howard (IAM) had eventually escaped after 30km to form the day's break but the peloton, led by Katusha and Team Sky, with Andy Fenn particularly prominent, never let their lead extend above three minutes.
Indeed it was Fenn who did the vast majority of the work as the gap to the break fell hard inside the final 20km, ahead of the final climb, and then the Scotsman pulled over to let his team-mates do battle.
Nobody else was as well represented in the final reckoning and that allowed Moscon to pick his moment perfectly and escape to a fine win.
Jobless Stef Clement confirms his class with second place in Norwegian mountains
Stef Clement was second.
“Of course I would have liked to have won today,” he said. “Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with this second place. At the beginning of the stage, I did not feel very comfortable and had very heavy legs. We had to dress more warmly on account of the cool rainy weather. When you have too many clothes on, you can overheat quickly, but when you dress too lightly, then you risk getting very chilled. It was a balancing act. Nevertheless in the final, I was able to find the strength and balance, and simply gave everything I had. The whole team worked well and was strong today. We were represented in the breakaway, and then were still strong in the finale.”
"The team did a great job today," exclaimed Kjell Carlström, directeur sportif for IAM Cycling at the race. “We had already talked this morning in the team meeting that we would have to place someone in the breakaway. We had Reto Hollenstein who was able to settle into a very strong escape group early on. The field didn’t let that group get away, so then we had Leigh Howard in a group that counterattacked. Of course the field also controlled this four man break. In the final, we just wanted to stay with the best for as long as possible, and then depending on the circumstances, to try something ourselves. Stef’s second place, and then the fourth place that Martin Elmiger secured, are certainly great results.”
Leigh Howard was part of a leading group that dominated the racing for most of the day. Howard was caught with just over six kilometers to go to the final climb ahead of the finish. Because of his aggressive riding style, the Australian was given the award as the most combative rider at the end of the stage.
With just one stage remaining, IAM Cycling has three riders in the top ten of the general classification: Stef Clement (2nd), Martin Elmiger (4th) and Reto Hollenstein (9th). IAM Cycling is also well placed in the team standings and is in second place just behind Team Sky, but in the same time. IAM Cycling has been racing without Matteo Pelucchi from the start, since the Italian sprinter had to pull out at short notice before the start of the race due to stomach issues.
Stef Clement’s second place in the queen stage of the Arctic Race of Norway represents the Swiss team’s 47th podium place of the 2016 season. That means that IAM Cycling has already earned one more podium place this year than they did in all of 2015.
For the final stage of the Arctic Race of Norway, the pack will be finishing in Bodo after 193 kilometers of racing.
“That will probably also be a stage for the sprinter,” Kjell Carlström explained. “Stef is not considered to be among the fastest sprinters in the pack, and if something will be possible to change in the standings, we will have to do it by escaping into a successful break.”
Tinkoff: Oscar Gatto could have won the queen stage
Improving on his eighth spot on yesterday’s stage, Oscar Gatto showed he’s a force to be reckoned with, taking a strong third position on the Arctic Race’s toughest stage. In a sprint for the third spot, Gatto edged out two of his rivals after the hardest day of one of the world’s toughest races. Gatto climbs to third in the GC ahead of the final stage.
Crossing the line shortly after the stage’s winner, contesting the sprint for third with two others, Oscar Gatto improved on his eighth position on yesterday’s stage. Speaking from the finish, Sport Director, Bruno Cenghialta, was pleased with the team’s performance getting the Italian rider in position.
"Today's stage unfolded exactly the way we had said it would. We had our focus set on the final climb with Oscar Gatto and the rest of the squad did an excellent in bringing him to the bottom of the climb in a good position. It was a very fast climb with lots of attacks. Unfortunately, he seemed to be a bit hesitant and waited before attacking. He wasn't sure he would have the strong legs, which at the end he proved he had. When the two Sky riders accelerated and Moscon created a gap, Oscar waited a bit and then attacked himself, taking third place at the finish.”
While confident that Gatto could have taken the stage today, Cenghialta saw that his performance was a strong one, rising to third in the GC after his late attack.
“Oscar was strong today and, maybe, if had tried a bit earlier, he could have taken the win although, of course, it's difficult to say that right now. We are satisfied with how we raced today. Oscar finished third and now sits third as well in the GC. It's a very good result. Tomorrow, it will be another fast, flat stage and we will have to see if there is something we could try for the GC. There are intermediate sprints and the finish with bonus seconds but the other teams will also be very vigilant of course. We will do our best to get the best result."
Odd Christian Eiking impresses with fifth place in home race
FDJ leaer Odd Christian Eiking who finished sixth in last year’s race, was fifth.
”It was fun, I got the help I needed. This was kind of my day in a way,” Eiking told procycling.no.
”You must be a bit tactical on such a climb. I was near the front all the time but riders came from behind in at fairly high speed when it leveled off. I hoped that someone would come by and bring me along
”The climb was quite gentle in some places. A lot of riders could follow. There was a lot of looking around and you cannot follow all attacks. I hoped it would be together until the final 500 meters and decided in a sprint.
“I felt fine. This weather is not quite my favorite conditions. I get quite stiff when it rains all day. It was quite cold. It is difficult. For each attack, it has an effect on your thighs. You cannot go with everything when it is so easy to be on the wheel on such a climb.
”Top 5 was my pre-race goal. And it turned out to be a realistic result. I was hoping for the top three as well. It might have been possible if I had done everything perfectly today.”
Breakthrough performance by Bjørn Tore Hoem in Norwegian queen stage
Bjørn Tore Hoem was in the break until the end but ultimately had to settle for 8th.
“I felt very good on the climb. During the stage I did not have a good feeling, but when I got to the climb I was full of adrenaline and felt incredibly good. It was stupid with the puncture just before the climb began, but it gave a little extra adrenaline,” Hoem told procycling.no.
“When I punctured I told the other guys: "Do not wait!" Because I thought it was over for me. I was unsure when the climb was going to start. I did not see the kilometer mark on the computer properly. I thought the it was over. But I came back to the peloton again. I got really good help from Amund [Jansen] and Adrian [Stien]. I have to thank them a lot,
“I've had a tough year. I had almost lost the motivation a bit. You are struggling a bit mentally when everything goes wrong. Today I rode a bit on anger. I had great support from the team. When I have a good day, I can be right up there.
“It's hard to say what my problem is. I may have a lot to learn in tactical finales. I may be a little defensive when it is a big fight for position I am slightly behind in key situations. So I have a bit to learn although I am not a rookie anymore.
“Now it is the Tour des Fjords. It's a big goal. Then we'll see.”
No result for Philippe Gilbert, Daniel Oss on the attack in Norwegian queen stage
It was a tough day in the saddle on stage 3 of the Arctic Race of Norway which saw Philippe Gilbert cross the line in 10th place on the summit finish in Korgfjellet.
Daniel Oss spent the day racing aggressively, initiating two of the early breakaway moves which eventually saw Oss go clear with three other riders.
The breakaway maintained a two-minute lead for much of the stage before the peloton brought them back on the final climb of the day. With Oss reeled in with five kilometers remaining, the attacks started and Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) launched the winning solo move.
Gilbert’s tenth place on the stage now sees him sitting in eighth place on the General Classification, and Amaël Moinard completing the top ten, with one stage remaining.
Daniel Oss said:
“It was always the plan to get in the breakaway today but ideally it would have been a stronger breakaway with more riders. It was really tough to even get the breakaway together after a couple of attempts so we had to work with what we had which was four of us including me. We had a steady lead but the peloton kept us pretty close. I tried to do my best to stay away and of course we also had the other five guys back in the bunch so it was a good scenario. The bunch pulled me back half way on the final climb and after that the race went on ahead, but I felt like a viking out there today.”
Sports director Klaas Lodewyck added:
“Today was a hard stage with the 4km climb at the beginning and it was cold and raining which didn’t help. I told the guys this morning that we would have to put someone in the breakaway to put pressure on the other teams so that we wouldn’t have to chase. We had Daniel Oss in there but the peloton didn’t really give them much of a chance as the gap was never more than two minutes which was frustrating. But Daniel was good, he really helped the team a lot by being up in front. To be in contention for the stage win he would have needed two or three minutes at the bottom of the final climb.
“We had the plan on the climb that someone like Amaël Moinard would go on the attack and the other guys just had to follow. But with the cold weather he was not 100 percent, and Loïc Vliegen bridged to one of the attacks but he also exploded a bit on the climb. For our guys it came down to the sprint in a small group and Philippe finished in tenth place.
“Tomorrow looks like it will be another sprint finish as there are multiple teams here who just came for the sprints. But there are four bonus sprints in the last 25km so you never know what will happen if some guys really want to go for it and shake things up in the peloton.”
Andreas Schillinger close to mountains jersey at the Arctic Race of Norway
The Bora-Argon 18 Equipe was trying to bring Paul Voss into a good position for the final. As a puncheur, the final seems perfect for him.
As best Bora-Argon 18 rider Paul Voss finished 11th and is now 14th in the general classification.
Andreas Schillinger was able to move up in the mountains classification. He is now one point behind the mountains jersey leader Tom Van Asbroeck (Team LottoNL Jumbo)
Rein Taaramae: I am not at 100% yet
The climbing stage in the 4th Arctic Race of Norway took place on Saturday in the 160 km stage 3 from Nesna to Korgfjellet. Team Katusha’s Rein Taaramäe looked for opportunities to defend his 2015 race win, and put in several attacks as well as responses to others, but nothing quite worked out today for the Estonian rider.
“On the final climb I just tried to follow my plan. I wanted to attack on a steep part just because I thought later it would be impossible to drop the rivals. The first time I attacked with 4,5 km to go was just to check the situation. Later I tried for few times, but it did not work. I felt ok but I can't say I am in 100% of my form. I am still on the way in my preparation for the Vuelta. So I did my best and I tried today. I want to thank my team for support. The guys did an amazing job,” said Rein Taaramäe
A breakaway group of four stayed clear on the rainy day in the Arctic until the finishing climb with 9 km to go. Jacopo Guarnieri did a great job for Team Katusha, leading the bunch for many kilometers and controlling the breakaway.
Once on the climb two riders were immediately dropped, leaving only Daniel Oss (BMC) and Leigh Howard of IAM. Katusha’s Sven Erik Bystrøm, Marco Haller and then Viacheslav Kuznetsov upped the pace to give Taaramäe a launching pad, which he used in his initial attack at just under 5 km to go. But the reduced group came back to him with other attacks soon following and Taaramäe was put on the defensive.
The Arctic Race of Norway comes to a conclusion on Sunday in a day with 3 rated-climbs but a flat finish, perfect for the likes of Alexander Kristoff. At 193 km, stage 4 begins in Arctic Circle and ends in Bodø.
Sep Vanmarcke unable to follow the best in Norwegian queen stage
The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders were unable to play a role in the queen stage of the Arctic Sea Race today in Norway. On the final climb of the third day, Sep Vanmarcke and Twan Castelijns did the best they could, but managed only 23rd and 30th place. Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) won the stage and grabbed the overall lead.
“The final climb was a too hard for our riders here in Norway,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “We tried to be part of the breakaway in the first part of the race, but we failed. Team Sky and Katusha controlled the race eventually, so it was all about the final climb. Sep and Twan gave it a try, but they lacked the power to compete with the best climbers. We more or less expected today’s result, though.”
Moreno Hofland and Dennis van Winden saved energy for the final part of the stage.
“They did that because of tomorrow,” Maassen added. “I’m expecting that stage to end up in a bunch sprint, so Moreno will get another chance. Tom Van Asbroeck took the moutains jersey back today because the former leader abandoned the race due to illness. It’s going to be tough to defend his jersey tomorrow because quite a lot of climbing has to be done.”
Astana target sprint success on final day in Norway
The first classified for the Astana Pro Team was Belgian Laurens De Vreese, twenty-eighth at only 1’39”.
“It was a quite difficult final with the uphill finish on Korgfjellet Summit,” explained De Vreese. “We are here to do as well as possible with our sprinters, Italian Guardini and Kazakh Tleubayev, but nonetheless I tried to hold onto the front position of the bunch today. In the finale, the speed on the climb was so high but I kept a good position, even if it was not enough to go for the top ten.”
“Tomorrow, the last stage seems very suitable for our sprinters so we will do our best to end this beautiful race in the best way possible,” concluded De Vreese.
Difficult queen stage for Stölting in Norway
Team Stölting Service Group couldn’t keep up with the best climbers, and Alexander Kamp was the team’s best-placed rider in 38th place.
Alex Kirsch who’d been in the break yesterday had to abandon the race with stomach trouble and didn’t start today.
The breakaway was reeled in slowly, but surely on the 8.9 km finishing climb, and there were many attacks from the peloton on the final 5 km of the stage. The pace was too high for the Team Stölting Service Group riders, with Danish champion Alexander Kamp the last to be dropped. He finished 1:54 minutes behind stage winner Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) who also took the overall lead.
Steele Von Hoff on the attack in Norwegian mountains
Australian sprinter Steele Von Hoff enjoyed a rare day in the break on what was billed as the ‘Queen Stage’ of the Arctic Tour
The official break of the day slipped away after a fast start. This was a four man strong group and contained Australian sprinter Steele Von Hoff. Due to his sprint abilities Von Hoff doesn’t often get chance to be part of a breakaway but he was not afraid to pull long turns within the group and drive them along towards the finish.
The peloton behind settled down and saw a mass re-grouping with everyone coming back together as the break extended their lead to 2 minutes 30 seconds. The peloton then held the breakaway between 1 and 2 minutes for the next 100km as Team Sky and Katusha both had a man on the front of the field. With around 30km of the stage remaining it looked like Von Hoff’s day was over as the peloton pulled them back to within 45 seconds before easing once again and allowing the gap to go out.
Heading towards the final climb of Korgfjellet, the peloton had the leaders in their sights as several teams battled for position into the bottom of the climb. ONE Pro Cycling were looking to position both Pete Williams and Karol Domagalski in the front of the race, but with the majority of other teams aiming to place a rider of their own, the batter for position commenced. As the pace in the peloton rapidly increased the gap to the leaders was brought down to just 30 seconds as they hit the bottom of the final climb. Having spent 110km driving the breakaway Steele Von Hoff was finally caught.
The GC battle raged on at the front with Williams and Domagalski picking their way up the mountain side, losing contact with the front group with around 4km remaining to cross the line 1 minute 50 seconds down on stage winner Gianni Moscon of Team Sky.
Matthew Brammeier shows himself in Norwegian mountains
Matt Brammeier was again in the thick of the action at the Arctic Race of Norway as he made the 4-rider break on today’s 3rd stage. Brammeier and co. were not allowed much breathing space though as Team Sky and Katusha never let the gap grow any larger than 2’30”.
With such a small gap and a big climb looming to finish off the stage, it was inevitable that the Irishman and his fellow breakaway mates would be caught. The quartet did well to push the peloton all the way to the foot of the final climb but the showdown on the category 1 Korgfjellet was not going to be stolen from the GC contenders today.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did not have a specialist for today’s type of finish but South African, Johann van Zyl who has just returned to racing after recovering from a broken elbow, gave the climb a good go to see where his form is at. Van Zyl, Youcef Reguigui and Songezo Jim all did well to hang on to the main contenders until 4km to go, but when the big attacks came from the climbers the trio was distanced. Van Zyl was the best placed on the stage, 2’08” down on Moscon.
Sports director Roger Hammond said:
“Today was really tough, up and down all day with a nasty climb at the end. The rain and cold weather exaggerated those difficulties. Even so, Matt rode aggressively being part of the 4-man group ahead of the race. On the final climb, Johann in his first race back from injury, fought hard but he still needs a few more race days under his belt.”
Søren Kragh Andersen comes up short in Nowegian queen stage
The first hour of racing was very fast and hard, with four riders eventually breaking clear. Giant-Alpecin’s Max Kanter made a brave effort to try to bridge to them, but was consumed by the peloton, controlled by Team Sky and Katusha. The final climb turned into the major GC battle that was expected, with Team Giant-Alpecin not able to stay with the leaders, but all riders arrived safely and look forward to supporting John Degenkolb in the final sprint stage tomorrow.
Coach Dirk Reulingsaid : ‘It was a GC day today with an 8.9km climb to the summit finish. Our plan was to be in the break as we don’t have a general classification rider here, and it was a very hard first hour and a long fight for the break. Four riders got away with no Giant-Alpecin riders there. Then Team Sky and Katusha controlled the peloton. We put Soren [Kragh9 in good position at the start of climb just to see how far he could come. It was not the best day and he was dropped 3.5km from top.”
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