Bauke Mollema (Belkin) won the toughest stage of the Tour of Norway when he out kicked Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo) over the final 200m. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) made it a good day for Belkin by crossing the line 3rd, 6 seconds behind his victorious teammate. Gerald Ciolek from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung showed some true grit and determination to finish with the yellow jersey group also just 6″ behind Mollema on an extremely tough climbers stage.
With Belkin intent on putting the yellow jersey under pressure, the early 4 man breakaway stood no chance as the guys in green ramped up the pace and reeled them in on the penultimate climb of the day, still with 41km left to race. As the race hit the foot of final climb, there was only 40 riders left at the front of the race. Halfway up the climb, Ruben Fernandez (Caja-Rural) put in a big attack on got a gap. The acceleration also thinned out the peloton to just 25 odd riders, still including Ciolek though.
Mollema, Hansen and Christian Eiking (Joker-Bianchi) would soon bridge to Fernandez and the quartet would then etch out a 33″ lead on the final few kilometers of the climb. A kilometer from the top of the climb it looked to be game over for Ciolek as he was finally dropped from the yellow jersey group. The former Milano-Sanremo champ did a crazy fast descent though and was able to make it back the now 18 rider select group on his own. IAM Cycling and CCC Polsat did all they could to reel in the leaders over the final 18km’s but Mollema and Hansen would have enough to just hold on. Ciolek’s impressive ride was enough to move him up to 8th on GC now.
Rider – Gerald Ciolek
It was a really hard stage. I just tried to stay with the first group, i had some difficulties on the last kilometer of the climb but i made it back to the group. At the finish i was so empty though that i couldn’t even do a sprint.
Directeur Sportif – Manel Lacambra
The ride from Gerald today was impressive. The stage was very hard with real climbs and Gerald finished with the front group. He is sitting in a good GC position now and we have one more stage to go. The times gaps are very close and tomorrow stage will be interesting, but whatever happens tomorrow we are very happy with Gerald’s performance this week.
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