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With a time of 22.57, Trek were 0.76 second faster than big favourites Orica-GreenEDGE in the opening Tour of Alberta team time trial; Mollema was first across the line and took the yellow jersey

Photo: Unipublic








03.09.2015 @ 07:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek created a major surprise when the beat big favourites Orica-GreenEDGE in the opening Tour of Alberta time trial. Covering the flat 19.6km course in 22.57, the American team was just 0.76 second faster than the Australians and as Bauke Mollema was first across the line, the team put their captain in the yellow jersey right from the start.


Going into the Tour of Alberta, Orica-GreenEDGE had done nothing to hide that the opening team time trial was a big goal. Lining up specialists like Svein Tuft, Jens Mouris, Sam Bewley, Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge, the team had travelled to Canada with a big part of the roster that is expected to defend their honour in the World Championships. In fact, they had arrived straight from a training camp where they had prepared specifically for the fight for the rainbow jersey and so very few believed that anyone would have just the slightest chance against the Australians in the flat 19.6km opener.


However, when the dust had settled on the course in Grand Prairie, it was Trek who stood on top of the podium. Being an early starter, the Americans had benefited from increasing wind speeds to take a hugely surprising win in a really thrilling battle with the major favourites


Trek were the third team to roll down the ramp and gauged their effort perfectly. Having dropped Laurent Didier, Kristof Vandewalle and Gregory Rast along the way, they arrived at the finish with the required number of five riders when Bauke Mollema, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, Matthew Busche and Marco Coledan powered across the line in 22.57 to slot into a comfortable lead.


Trek faced their first challenge from the strong Katusha team of Ilnur Zakarin and Simon Spilak who were just 2 seconds behind at the intermediate check. When the Russians could only manage second with a time loss of 8 seconds, it became clear that Trek would be in contention for the win.


No one was even close to the Americans for a while, with fellow WorldTour teams Cannondale-Garmin and Giant-Alpecin losing more than 20 seconds, and when outsiders Bora-Argon 18 had to settle for a provisional third place, only Orica-GreenEDGE could pose a challenge. Things were looking promising for the Australians at the intermediate check where they had gone 12 seconds faster than Trek.


However, the favourites had already lost Bewley and Hepburn and when Mouris was exploded, they had to do the final part with the minimum of five riders. That turned out not to be enough as Christian Meier led them across the line in a time that was 0.76 second off the mark.


Clearly surprised with the outcome, the Trek riders could step onto the podium as stage winners and as he had been first across the line, Bauke Mollema now finds himself in the great positioning of leading the race after the opening stage. He is equal on time with his four teammates and the Orica-GreenEDGE quintet of Meier, Durbridge, Tuft, Adam Yates and Michael Matthews as he goes into the second stage. It is a mostly flat affair but in the finale, the riders will do a few laps of a finishing circuit which means that they will tackle a short, relatively steep climb three times. The final passage comes 10km from the finish and should create a selection before an expected sprint finish.


A flat opener

For the first time in the history of the race, the Tour of Alberta included a team time trial as the third edition of the race kicked off with a 19.6km collective test. The course was relatively non-technical and completely flat and took place in the city of Grand Prairie.


It was a windy and relatively cold day in Canada when Lupus rolled down the ramp as the first team and the small continental team did a relatively strong ride. Seven riders from the team reached the finish in 23.41 to set an early mark.


That proved to be enough to hold off the H&R team whose time of 24.53 turned out to be clearly the slowest of the day. Instead, it was Trek that was expected to set a first serious mark and when Mollema led his team across the line, the clock showed 22.57 which was enough to take a comfortable lead.


Trek take the lead

Jelly Belly got Lachlan Morton’s GC campaign off to a poor start as they could only manage 24.18 which would ultimately be good enough for 14th of the 15 teams. As opposed to this, the Silber team had a vert good ride as five of their riders stopped the clock in 23.38 to slot into second.


Trek faced their first serious test when Katusha started their stage and as they were only 2 seconds behind at the time check, it was clear that it would be a close battle. However, Alexey Tsatevich led four of his teammates across the line in 23.05 which was 8 seconds off the mark.


Giant-Alpecin miss out

The Axeon team didn’t get the race off to the best start as their time of 23.57 would ultimately be good enough for 12th and things weren’t any better for Smartstop that could only manage 24.01. Instead, most had their eyes on the Giant-Alpecin team but as they had already lost 11 seconds at the time check, it was clear that they would not take the win. In the end, Nikias Arndt led four teammates across the line in 23.22 to slot into second.


The Optum team have many Canadians and so were among the fan favourites and they had a solid ride. Five riders from the American team managed a time of 23.41 which was enough to slot into fifth.


Poor performance by Cannondale-Garmin

They were quickly relegated though as the Hincapie Development Team confirmed their huge potential byt stopping the clock in 23.24 to nearly beat WorldTour team Giant-Alpecin. Their time would ultimately be good enough for sixth.


Much was expected from the Cannondale-Garmin team with local hero Ryder Hesjedal and they rode a cohesive stage as seven riders reached the finish together. However, their time of 23.27 was disappointing as it would only be good enough for seventh.


Orica-GreenEDGE miss out

Drapac had a team with plenty of strong riders and so were expected to do well. However, they could only manage 23.37 and were never close to challenging Trek’s time.


Bora-Argon 18 had lined up most of their A team and were regarded as strong outsiders for the title. Trek got a scare when they passed the time check in a time that was 2 seconds faster but the final headwind section was too tough for the Germans. Christoph Pfingsten led four of his teammates across the line in 23.20 which would see them slot into third.


Orica-GreenEDGE were now the only team left and they fully lived up to expectations when they passed the time check in a time that was 12 seconds faster than Trek’s. However, the headwind proved too be detrimental to their hopes and despite their best efforts, Meier and his teammates were 0.76 second too late.



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