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Former ski jumper Roglic joins Clarke in a late-stage breakaway and they manage to keep the peloton at bay, with Roglic taking the victory and Clarke the leader's jersey










08.05.2014 @ 14:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Primoz Roglic (Adria Mobil) became a surprise winner of today's hilly second stage of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan when he made it to the finish as part of a front duo with William Clarke (Drapac). The duo managed to keep the peloton at bay by 9 seconds on another windy day in Azerbaidjan, with Roglic winning the sprint and Clarke taking over the leader's jersey from Kenny Van Hummel (Androni).


Primoz Roglic of Adria Mobil won the second stage of the Tour d'Azerbaijan, after a long break. He outsprinted his break companion Will Clarke (Drapac) for the victory. Rafael Andriato of Neri Sottoli led the chase group across the finish line nine seconds later for third place. Clarke, who had finished 25th on the first stage, took over the race lead.


Roglic and Clark jumped from the first group on the day's second climb, after about 114 km. They built up a lead of up to nearly three minutes – not much, but they managed to stay away until the end. Numerous attacks out of the chase group were never able to make their mark.

It was a hard mountain stage, with heavy winds in the first part tearing the peloton into multiple groups. The climbs included steep ascents, tight curves and sometimes narrow roads.


Roglic, who was a ski jumper before becoming a pro cyclist, was surprised by his success.


“At first I stayed behind in the second group, then we caught the first group at the feeding zone. Then went in front with one more guy on the descent leading up to the category one climb. And then I won the mountain points and the stage.”


Clarke called it “another really hard day. The first 40 kms were pretty relaxed, then things started happening. I found myself in the front group again. At about 115 kms I attacked with Roglic, we got a bit of a gap, gave full gas on the descent and then opened a bigger gap. We worked well together.”


The day started out in the arid climate of Baku under bright blue skies. Once again heavy winds dominated the early part of the stage. They started with a strong headwind, but that didn't stop Laurent Vandenbak and Thomas Vaubourzeix from jumping. They built up a lead of nearly 10 minutes by km 36, before the peloton started to give chase.


There they faced a huge crosswind which tore the field into three groups. The first group had 20 to 25 riders in it. Around the first intermediate sprint, Vaubourzeix sat up and waited for the peloton. Vandenbak stayed on alone and took the sprint before being caught. By km 85, there was one minute between the first two groups, with the third group, including yesterday's winner Kenny Van Hummel, some five minutes down.


A number of riders were able to jump to the lead group, creating a bunch of about 55 in the front, nine minutes ahead of the 60-man second group.


The day's second climb approached, and Roglic attacked out of the group, with Clarke chasing. They topped the climb at km 125 with a gap of 1:50. The points went to Roglic, Clarke, Vitaliy Buts andMykhaylo Konoenko.


Only five km later they took on the second intermediate sprint of the day, 2:10 ahead of the group, with Roglic again ahead of Clarke and Buts


The next climb – a steep category one – was there only moments later. The gap had blossomed to 2:40 but dwindled to 1:52 as the climb started.


With 30 km to go, the two leaders had 55 seconds over the chase group. The final climb of the day went to Roglic, Clarke, Robert Power, Ilnur Zakarin and Juan Jose Cobo.


As the finish line approached, Caja Rural led the chase, with the gap at 47 seconds with 5 km to go, dropping to 28 seconds with 3 km to go.


It nearly came to a bunch sprint. Roglic and Clarke had only a 9 second gap on the onrushing field. Another group rolled in some 4 minutes later, with more coming in later.


“This stage was really hard, in fact the last two stages have been really hard,” Clarke noted, adding that it was “one of the hardest races I have ever done.”



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