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Norwegian takes narrow sprint win after doing a huge work to defend the leader's jersey of teammate Chernetskiy who remains in yellow with a team time trial coming up later today

Photo: Sirotti

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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ROBERT WAGNER

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TOUR DES FJORDS

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17.08.2013 @ 13:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took the home win that most had expected him to take yesterday when the Norwegian powered clear to narrowly edge out Robert Wagner (Belkin) and Jetse Bol (Belkin) in the bunch sprint on the second stage of the Tour de Fjords. Having done a huge work to defend the leader's jersey of teammate Sergey Chernetskiy, the Norwegian had kept enough in reserve to win the sprint and will have to go all out again later today in the crucial team time trial where Chernetskiy's lead will come under pressure.

 

Alexander Kristoff had hoped to enjoy two fantastic weeks on home soil during the Arctic Tour of Norway and the Tour des Fjords but he got off to a bad start when he missed the former race due to pneumonia. Yesterday, he missed out in stage 1 when a late breakaway held off the peloton but today there was no one denying the powerful Norwegian the victory.

 

With David Tanner (Belkin) up the road, the race leadership of Kristoff's teammate Sergey Chernetskiy had come under pressure and this forced Kristoff to do an awful lot of work to reel in the Australian. Having succeeded in his mission, he spent a few moments to recover before finally launching a devastating sprint in the bunch kick that finally ensued.

 

Home rider Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) and Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx) had made a late attack and were caught inside the final kilometre. That was the second near-miss in a row for Nordhaug who had also been part of yesterday's successful breakaway, ultimately finishing fourth.

 

With Katusha using a lot of energy to defend the jersey, the Russian team may be weakened ahead of the evening 24km team time trial which is expected to have a crucial impact on the final general classification. Belkin and Katusha are expected to be involved in a fierce duel as Chernetskiy hopes to defend his lead while Nordhaug hopes to move up.

 

A short stage

The second day of the inaugural Tour des Fjords kicked off with a short 103km stage. Despite a mostly flat profile, the numerous small climbs and subsequent descents made for a hard day in the saddle on a day that offered very few kilometres of flat roads.

 

The race was off to an aggressive start as the smaller continental teams all wanted to be involved in the early action. August Jensen (Øster Hus-Ridley), Timofey Kritskiy (Katusha), Martin Wesemann (MTN-Qhubeka), Kevin Reza (Team Europcar), Patrick Konrad (Etixx), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Cult) and Marco Minaard (Rabobank) made up the first significant move but when home hero Thor Hushovd (Norwegian national team) bridged across, it was brought back together.

 

The early break is formed

Instead, Filip Eidsheim (Øster Hus), Vegard Robinson Bugge (Joker-Merida) and Matthew Brammeier (Champion System) got clear and those three riders were allowed to build up a gap of a little less than a minute. For a short time, Frederik Willman (Norwegian national team) and Alexander Gingsjö (People4You) tried to bridge across but they were ultimately brought back.

 

Belkin had intentions of making it a hard day for Katusha and so they launched David Tanner up the road on one of the day's major climbs. Up ahead Brammeier accelerated over the top, first dropping Eidsheim before continuing on his own.

 

Bugge falls off the pace

Tanner made it across to Bugge and Eidsheim and those three riders joined up with Brammeier to form a front quartet. Bugge fell off the pace  a little later and like Odd Christian Eiking (Norwegian national team) who had tried to bridge across on his own, he fell back into the peloton.

 

The front trio proved surprisingly resistant and the Katusha team of race leader Chernetskiy had to dig really deep to keep the break under control. With 25km to go, the gap was still 38 seconds but Chernetskiy now only had sprinters Kristoff and Marco Haller to support and so those two had to do all the chase work.

 

Tanner goes off on his own

With 20km to go, Tanner attacked on a small climb and none of his companions were able to respond. The Australian was riding strongly and opened up a 1.30 gap with 15km to go.

 

Eidsheim and Brammeier were caught by the Katusha-led peloton from which attacks kept going.  Michael Valgren (Cult) made a promising move to bridge across but when Katusha got assistance from Europcar, he was brought back.

 

Tanner is caught

With 5km to go, Plussbank also added some riders to the chase and that was enough to end the break of Tanner. However, counterattacks were launched immediately from Plussbank, Joker-Merida, Cult and Etixx as Katusha had now used up most of their riders.

 

Nordhaug and Wisniowski countered those moves and managed to build up a big gap. For some time, it appeared as though they could go all the way to the line but finally the chase got organized.

 

Champion System led the peloton under the flamme rouge and 500m further up the road, the front duo was caught. Wagner opened up a long sprint on the right side of the road but Kristoff was well-positioned and edged out his German rival while Bol came fast from behind to take 3rd ahead of Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Hushovd.

 

Result:

1. Alexander Kristoff

2. Robert Wagner

3. Jetse Bol

4. Tom Van Asbroeck

5. Thor Hushovd

 

General classification:

1. Sergey Chernetskiy

 

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