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With a time of 28.23, Ulissi beat Taaramae by four seconds in the very hilly Tour de Slovenie time trial; second place was enough for Taaramae to extend his lead over Haig to 1.42

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

DIEGO ULISSI

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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OMAR FRAILE

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REIN TAARAMAE

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TOUR DE SLOVENIE

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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18.06.2016 @ 20:33 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) bounced back from yesterday’s disappointment by winning the thrilling time trial at the Tour de Slovenie. On the hilly course, he was just four seconds faster than race leader Rein Taaramae (Katusha) while Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) was a distant third at 52 seconds. Taaramae extended his lead over Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) to 1.42.

 

After a great Giro d’Italia, Diego Ulissi arrived at the Tour de Slovenie with big expectations. After all, the Italian had won the race in 2010 when he also won the queen stage on the climb that was used for yesterday’s stage.

 

Ulissi seemed to be on track for a great race when he finished second in the surprisingly hard first stage but yesterday it all ended in disappointment. In the queen stage,, he lost more than 10 minutes and dropped completely out of GC contention.

 

It would have been easy for Ulissi to give up but he was determined to bounce back in today’s time trial. He may not be known as a TT specialist but with the 16.8km course ending with a 6.8km climb, it was a course suited to his characteristics.

 

With his time loss, Ulissi started pretty early but it was evident that he was on fire. When he crossed the line, he had beaten long-time leader Alexander FoliforoV (Gazprom-Rusvelo) by a massive 1.10.

 

He knew that the best climbers were still to come but none of them were even close to his time. Only Omar Fraile managed to get within a minute of his time but the Basque was a massive 52 seconds behind when he slotted into second.

 

When riders like Gianni Moscon (Sky) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) both had to settle for minor spots in the top 10, it became clear that it would all come down to the final two riders, Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Rein Taaramae (Katusha). Haig is not known as a TT specialist but did well to take fifth, 1.10 behind Ulissi, so it was all about Taaramae.

 

In the end, it came down to a thrilling finale as the Estonian got close. In the end he missed out in victory by just four seconds and so Ulissi could step onto the podium as the stage winner.

 

However, Taaramae could console himself with the fact that he extended his lead over Haig to 1.42 while Barta moved into third overall at 2.38. He now just needs to get safely through the final stage which should be one for the sprinters. After a flat start, the riders will tackle three small category 3 climbs at the midpoint and then they will head along flat roads to Novo Mesto where the will end the stage by doing three laps of a flat 5km circuit.

 

 

A hilly course

After yesterday’s queen stage, it was time for the time trial. The 16.8km between Celje and Celjska Koca were by no means flat. The first 10km were for the powerful specialists but then the climbing hostilities started as the final 6.8km were almost all uphill. First there was a 1.5km climb with a 16% section and then a short, flat section led to a climb that averaged 6.4%. The final part of the stage was a long, gradual rise.

 

It was a sunny day hen Alexander Evtushenko (Gazprom) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He stopped the clock in 32.36. That allowed him to stay in the hot seat for a few minutes before Alex Peters (Sky) lowered the mark with a time of 30.11.

 

Foliforov takes the lead

Tilen Finkst (Radenska) slotted into third with 32.39 before Andi Bajc (Amplatz) posted the second best time of 31.14. Michal Kolar (Tinkoff) did well on the hilly course to take third with 32.25 but he was pushed into third by Aydar Zakarin (Gazprom) who was 10 seconds faster. Artur Ershov (Gazprom) did even better with 32.13 to make it onto the podium.

 

Federico Zurlo (Lampre-Merida) posted the second best time of 31.10 before Marek Canecky (Amplatz) made it into the top 10 with 32.28. However, it was Russian climbing sensation Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom) who managed to beat Peters as he posted a time of 29.33 to take the lead by 38 seconds.

 

Tratnik gets close

Maxim Belkov (Katusha) did well to slot into fourth with 31.12 and Gian Marco Francesco (Norda) was sixth with 31.37. Kenny De Ketele (Topsport) was just 9 seconds slower to move into seventh.

 

Jan Tratnik (Amplatz) was the first to get close to Foliforov as he was second with a time loss of 18 seconds while TT specialist Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) could only manage 32.07 on the hilly course. Giacomo Berlato (Nippo) did better with 31.13 as it allowed him to take sixth.

 

Good ride by Mühlberger

Damiano Cunego (Nippo) continued his bad race as he could only just make it into the top 10 with 31.46. He was beaten by young teammate Iuri Filosi who stopped the clock in 31.16.

 

Jaco Venter (Dimension Data) was the next threat for Foliforov as he posted the fourth best time of 30.21 but he was quickly beaten by climber Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Argon 18) who moved into third with 30.07 Bruno Maltar (Radenska) also did well to take sixth with 30.56.

 

Ovechkin slots into second

Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom) made it two Gazprom riders in the top 2 when he posted a time that was just 12 seconds slower than Foliforov’s and then Michele Scartezzini (Norda) made it into the 8th. Sergey Nikolaev continued the Gazprom dominance by taking seventh with 30.44 but he was quickly beaten by Simone Sterbini (Bardiani) who was four seconds faster.

 

Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni) posted the sixth best time of 30.27 before Xabier Zandio (Sky) vecame the second Sky rider in the top 10 with a time of 3.46. Matteo Rabottini (Meridiana) proved that he still has something in the legs as he was just three seconds slower in 10th before being pushed out of the top 10 by Marco Frapporti (Androni).

 

Ulissi takes the lead

At this point, everybody was waiting for Ulissi and the Italian didn’t disappoint. Stopping the clock in 28.23, he was 1.10 faster than Foliforov and so took a comfortable lead.

 

Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) did surprisingly well to move into the top 10 with 30.30 but he was pushed down one spot by Peter Kusztor who continued the great day for Amplatz. It was Fraile who turned out to be the first threat for Ulissi but he was 52 seconds behind in third place.

 

Taaramae misses out

Alessia Taliani (Androni) posted the 8th best time of 30.12 but Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani) did even better with 30.09. Franco Pellizotti (Androni) showed that there is still life in the old legs as his time of 29.55 was good enough for sixth.

 

Gianni Moscon (Sky) proved his potential by taking fifth place in 29.47 but he was beaten by one second by Jose Mendes (Bora-Argon 18). Eliot Lietaer (Topsport) took 8th with 29.52 but there was disappointment for local hero Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) who failed to make it into the top 10 with 30.12.

 

TT specialist Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) did well on the hilly course to move into fourth with 29.37 and then most of the top 10 failed to make it into the top 10. That changed when Haig arrived as he was four seconds faster than Barta and could move into fourth. However, it was Taaramae who was expected to challenge Ulissi but today the race leader had to settle for second.

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