Alexander Kristoff (KAT) won the opening stage of the Tour of Norway in a tough uphill sprint finish. Sondre Enger (Team Sparbanken) would finish less then a wheels length behind Kristoff with Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen) the 3rd placed rider on the day. Gerald Ciolek, the German sprinter from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was in the mix today and managed to sprint his way into 7th place.
With the rain coming down for the better part of the stage, the roads were rather slippery causing quite a few spills throughout the day. With around 55km to go there was a crash in the peloton that took down both Johann van Zyl and Ferekalsi Debesay. Van Zyl was able to rejoin the race quite quickly but unfortunately Debesay had to abandon, reducing Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung down to just 4 riders after Adrien Niyonshuti did not start today sighting a knee injury.
The 4 remaining MTN-Qhubeka riders did a good job in making sure Ciolek was well positioned heading into the final km’s as Team Katusha and Belkin chased down the 7 rider break that had been up the road all day. With 6km to go the race was all together and Ciolek was well positioned on the wheel of Kristoff. Coming into the final 2km’s there were a number of twists and turns on slippery roads that really strung out the peloton. Luckily it was quite a climb to the line and while Ciolek lost some ground in the corners he fought back valiantly on the steeper gradient to rejoin the front of the race. In the end, there was no stopping Kristoff and Ciolek settled for 7th.
Rider – Gerald Ciolek
Katusha controlled the race the whole day but still, it was not an easy race. It was up and down all the time with a lot of rain in the final and also an uphill finish. I was struggling to find a good position in the sprint and then i was just missing that final punch in the last 200m. I am feeling good though so i am looking forward to the next stages.
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