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"Now I will take some rest and will go for three weeks to an altitude training camp for my second part of the season with the Tour of Poland, the Olympic Games in Rio and the Tour of Spain as my next goals. I am still ambitious for Gra...

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

TOUR DE SLOVENIE

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
20.06.2016 @ 00:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Porsev (Katusha) took his third big victory when he emerged as the strongest in a very wet bunch sprint on the final stage of the Tour de Slovenie. In the final dash to the line, he held off Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon 18) and Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) while his teammate Rein Taaramae finished safely to take the overall win ahead of Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18).

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Rein Taaramae after Slovenian victory: I still have grand tour ambitions

It was a day for Team Katusha to take charge and reap the benefits of hard work on Sunday in the fourth and final stage of the 2016 Tour of Slovenia. Team rider Aleksandr Porsev earned stage honors in Novo Mesto and Rein Taaramäe heads home with the overall win on the general classification, making for four days of successful racing in Slovenia.

 

Overall leader Rein Taaramäe wears the yellow jersey home, one month after winning an exciting mountain stage in the Giro d’Italia. More and more he appears to be a rider for the short stage races. In 2015 he won the Overall in the Tour of Burgos and the Arctic Race of Norway.

 

“But this is the first time I was riding in the yellow jersey. In Burgos and Norway, but also earlier in Tour de l’Ain, I won the Overall by taking the yellow jersey on the last day. What we did here is definitely nicer. I have to say that it was not difficult today. The stage was flat but our team was so amazingly good. When they started chasing they immediately took back two minutes in less than 10 km. It was a pleasure to have these teammates. Now I will take some rest and will go for three weeks to an altitude training camp for my second part of the season with the Tour of Poland, the Olympic Games in Rio and the Tour of Spain as my next goals. I am still ambitious for Grand Tours too. I am not too old for that,” said 29-year old Estonian Rein Taaramäe.

 

"When I came to Slovenia, I had a plan to win the race,” he told Siol.net. “I like new challenges. Here, I've never raced. When I won at the Giro, I became increasingly hungry for victories and I had a goal to be good in Slovenia. After this race I will rest. The victory means a lot to me. I realized how beautiful Slovenia is.

 

"I am glad to have won second stage and the Giro was excellent preparation for this kind of stage. In fact, I was at the Giro to prepare for the race in Slovenia (laughs) But the Tour of Slovenia cannot be compared to the Giro because it is a legend. Even as a child I dreamed that I would win the biggest Italian race. But to win in Slovenia means a lot.

 

"I hope I am the old Taaramae again. I'm glad to be able to improve. In the Giro I was not in the best shape. I had two kilos too much and if I lost those two kilograms, I would be even faster.

 

"Five kilometers from the finish, I told him Porsev that I no longer needed his help because I had enough of an advantage. Even if I had crashed, I would not lose that much.

 

"At the Tour de Romandie, I roomed with Simon Spilak and talked with him. On Friday I sent a short message and said that I would win in his home country.

"Now I go to the Olympics go, but my next goal is Vuelta. I want to help Joaquim Rodriguez to win. was my big idol.

 

“For years I have had a high level and we have two big cycling names in Estonia. I am one of them, the other is Tanel Kangert from Astana. Estonia is a small country. We have around 1.2 million people. Everybody knows and follows us.”

 

Taaramae  won by a wide margin of 1:42 to Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEdge) and 2:38 to Jan Bárta of Bora-Argon 18.

 

“Our guys were amazing. I can only congratulate them. They did exactly what we planned to do today and in the end they were flexible enough to change the plan with a good outcome. I am a happy team director. It is also nice that Rein Taaramäe brings home our first 2016 Overall victory in a stage race. Rein will bring us more luck this year,” said team director Claudio Cozzi.

 

The stage win and Overall victory bring the total to sixteen for Team KATUSHA in the 2016 cycling season.

 

Victorious Alexandr Porsev: I was only plan B

“This is so nice and important too. I was already good in last month’s Giro d’Italia, finishing six times in the top ten, but to win is important. It makes the difference for a fast rider. It was not our plan at all to play my cards in the final. My goal was to work for Alexey Tsatevich, but Alexey crashed at 6 km from the finish so we had to go to plan B and that ended up working out very well. We had three local laps in Novo Mesto, so I knew the last kilometer. I knew I had to take that last corner as the first rider. I did it with some risk. The last kilometer was very tricky with the rain, the corners and with the wet cobblestones. At 300 meter from the finish, at the last corner, I went full gas and nobody could pass me again. What a nice day for us – the stage win and Overall victory for Rein,” said 30 year old Aleksandr Porsev.

 

Porsev will now head to his Russian national championships and later to the Tour de Wallonie.

 

Breakthrough podium for Jack Haig at the Tour de Slovenie

Young Australian Jack Haig capped an impressive debut at the Tour of Slovenia today, by winning the points jersey and claiming second on the overall general classification for Orica-GreenEDGE.

 

22-year old Haig was kept in a great position by his teammates as the wet stage unfolded over 179 difficult kilometres before Haig again became lead out man as Jens Keukeleire moved up to contest the sprint.

 

Crashes were occurring throughout the wet and dangerous finale, with Keukeleire unfortunately losing position in the last kilometre, but skillfully managing to stay upright as his front wheel slid from under him.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE came into the race targeting stage wins and achieved this on the first stage. Keukeleire sprinted to victory and into the race lead after a great lead out from the impressive Haig.

 

Stage two was the mountainous Queen Stage where Haig shone again, finishing second behind eventual race winner Rein Tarramae (Katusha).

 

 The 22-year old Australian sealed second overall for the team after finishing in fifth place on yesterday’s individual time trial then sprinting for the line with the leaders on today’s final stage.

 

Christian Meier, Mitch Docker and Cheung King Lok all provided outstanding support throughout the race and symbolised the positive attitude and work ethic within the team.

 

Sport director Matt Wilson was very pleased with how the team performed over the course of the four-day mini stage race.

 

“As a team we have surpassed all expectations this week,” said a content Wilson at the end of the race.

 

“We came here with modest goals and we go away with second overall, a stage win and the points jersey. That really is fantastic.

 

”I’m super happy for Jack (Haig), he is only twenty-two but every day he rode very assuredly and the way he fought to hold onto the points jersey and his second place is truly wonderful.”

 

“The work ethic of the entire team has been second to none,” continued Wilson. “We had a small squad for this race and we were looking to use it as preparation, so to see they guys giving it their all each day has been very satisfying.

 

“After our result here we can approach the upcoming the upcoming races with a lot of confidence and I hope we can carry this form forward.”

 

Rudiger Selig misses out in victory in photo finish

Bora-Argon 18 had a fast man in the bunch. Rudi Selig was supported to compete against the other sprinters. Andreas Schillinger and Scott Thwaites positioned him very well in the last kilometre. In the sprint he had to settle for 2nd place after a photo finish.

In the general classification the last stage brought no changes. Jan Bárta remained in his superb 3rd place and José Mendes finished the Tour in a strong 7th place.

 

“With this podium in the GC we can be really happy, I think this is the optimum we could achieve. Rudi rode a very strong finale today, he made no mistakes and Schilli and Scott positioned him well before the last corner. In the end it’s a pity to lose in a photo finish, but that’ life,” said André Schulze, sports director.

 

"The team did a great job on the finishing circuit, it was wet and we always stayed in front. I was in 3rd spot in the last corner and then lauched my sprint. It's a pity to be that close, but my legs were really good today,” Rüdiger Selig said.

 

Kristian Sbaragli close to first 2016 win in Slovenia

Kristian Sbaragli crossed the line in Novo Mesto in 3rd place.

 

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and Team Katusha were focused on bringing things back together during the four final local laps.

 

For the final 25km of the stage it was all Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka at the front of the peloton, with the African team clawing back the escapees with every passing kilometer. With just 2 laps of 5km each remaining, Danielle Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) was the sole surviving breakaway rider but the African team was just 10 seconds adrift.

 

On the penultimate lap Colli was caught and the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka boys led the sprint out for the final 6km, with Sbaragli the go to man for the final kick. Porsev was able to benefit from the team’s strong final drive to the line and came from behind Sbaragli to take the win on the wet pave road in Novo Mesto. Selig snuck in for 2nd as Sbaragli lunged for the line to secure the final podium placing.

 

Kristian Sbaragli said:

 

“It was a hard final day in the rain today. The last few corners were quite technical and difficult so we led the bunch from far out. The guys did such a great job, everyone contributed very well and obviously the goal was to win today but I finished 3rd in the final. It was good to be there in the end, fighting for the victory.”

 

Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:

 

”It was the final stage of the Tour of Slovenia today and the weather was not as nice as the other days. There wasn't much to the stage today, just wait for the final on the local laps. There was a big crash in the final lap but fortunately none of our riders were involved. The plan was to prepare the sprint for Kristian and lead him out. So we took the day easy and just waited for the final local laps and the team did really, really well on the circuit. In the final Kristian was sprinting but two guys were just stronger and beat him to the line. So it was 3rd today and 3rd yesterday, not a bad way to end the race here in Slovenia.”

 

Elia Viviani confident for the Olympics despite poor result in Slovenia

Andy Fenn sprinted to fifth on the final day at the Tour of Slovenia to wrap up the four-day stage race.

 

Fenn was leading Elia Viviani out at the end of the sprinter-friendly 179km stage four but the Italian lost his wheel in the twisty closing stages and Fenn went for the win himself.

 

Alexander Porsev (Katusha) claimed the victory but Fenn wasn't far behind the Russian after a strong effort on the right-hand side of the wet cobbled road.

 

Gianni Moscon had started the day ninth overall but unfortunately a crash on the slippery finishing circuit saw the Italian lose valuable time and he came home 49 seconds down, sacrificing his top-10 position.

 

Viviani was upbeat after the stage talking to TeamSky.com, despite not doing battle for the win.

 

He said: "It was a really technical finish, plus it was wet all day, so it was dangerous too. I lost Andy's wheel with 600 metres to go and in the last corner he was in a good position, but I couldn't stay with him. He sprinted as if I was on his wheel and finished well. I came home just behind him in 10th.

 

"Alex Peters had done a good job in the lead-out, then Andy did a good job, but in the confusion I just lost his wheel. We finished safely though, which was important out there - it could have been dangerous.”

 

It was Viviani's first race since the Giro d'Italia and he admitted he was pleased with his condition.

 

He added: "This was a good race for me after the Giro. I feel ready for the second part of the season. I've been doing a lot of track work plus an altitude training camp and I feel good.

 

”I felt really bad at the Giro but I'm feeling really good on the bike again now. I think I am in a good place for the Olympics and the Italian National Championships which are next week.

 

”I think the Nationals will be a nervous race - it's all up and down, but the maximum climb is only 700m… it's 3km from the end, but I think it could be a sprint finish. We will see."

 

Sport Director Dario Cioni admitted it wasn't a great day for the team, but there was some encouraging performances across the race.

 

He said: "It was a rainy day and the final circuit was pretty difficult with a very slippy entry into the final kilometre. Sadly Gianni crashed, so it wasn't great for us. He lost some positions on GC.

 

”Overall we hoped we would come away with more results than we did, but the level of the race was really high this year with quite a few WorldTour teams here. We didn't have the easiest start on the first day so GC-wise we were a little compromised but we've still seen some really good rides.

 

"Alex Peters did really well in the TT to come 15th yesterday and rode well on the mountain top finish, it's good to see Benat [Intxausti] back racing, and Andy and Elia tried their best with the sprint, but it wasn't to be. It was a good experience for the younger riders and a good training block for the others."

 

Crash takes local hero out of contention for sprint in Slovenia

Contrary of what was expected, Marko Kump was not fighting in the sprint in the streets of his hometown, where he obtained two victories in his career: the rider from Lampre-Merida was involved in a crash 7km from the finish. The incident also took out his two Slovenian team mates Mohoric and Pibernik.

 

None of the blue-fuchsia-green cyclists suffered serious consequences but they were forced to give up their ambitions for the final sprint. Lampre-Merida changed the plans and the main sprinter became Modolo who received the support from Ferrari in the approach of the sprint. The winner of two stages in the 2015 Giro d’Italia could not celebrate his birthday with a succees: he was 8th in the sprint won by Porsev.

 

In the overall classification, the best blue-fuchsia-green athlete is Pibernik in 20th.

 

“It’s a pity that Kump could not sprint: he was really focused on this stage, however races don’t always go as expected,” sports director MarioScirea explained. “We had a good alternative to Kump with Modolo, whose condition improved day after day in the Tour of Slovenia. He could not win, but he’ll soon be at the top of his form.”

 

No result for Tinkoff at the Tour de Slovenie

Having worked hard to stay in contention for the sprint, Tinkoff Sport Director Tristan Hoffman gave some insight into the final stages from the finish.

 

“There were five guys in the front today and our plan was to sit back to focus on the sprint at the end. The stage did all come back together but we didn't come away with a result.”

 

The weather proved to have an impact on how the race would pan out, with the wet roads making the technical finishing circuit tough – including a cobblestone finish – as Hoffman explained.

 

“Michael Kolar tried to get up there at the end but he missed out, losing position in the last corner. It was wet and quite tricky in the rain at the finish but we had no crashes, and the rest finished ok.”

 

With many riders in the team making final preparations for their national championships in the coming weeks, the Tour of Slovenia was excellent preparation for the racing to come, owing to the varied parcours, said Hoffman from the finish.

 

“Although we didn't come away with any results, the race will have been good for the guys to get the kilometres in the legs before the national championships.”

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