The opening stage of the Tour des Fjords would be a long, cold and wet affair that saw a select group of riders contest for the stage win. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) would win the small bunch sprint with Marco Haller (Katusha) hanging in for 2nd and Daryl Impey (Orica-Greenedge) netted 3rd place.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had both Edvald Boasson Hagen and Kristian Sbaragli in the final group and our ever dependable Italian crossed the line in 4th place. It was another solid team effort that ensured Kristian and Edvald would be able to make the final selection as the boys came to front with 20km to go and reeled in the early breakaway riders.
It was a tough old day in the bunch, particularly during the final hour of racing when the rain was belting down and the chase was on to reel in the 6 riders that at one stage had just over 3 minutes on the peloton. It didn’t help that a media motorbike crashed in the gutter while trying to pass the peloton and took down around 10 riders in the final 30km of the race.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung held its nerve though and kept Eddy and Kris in a good spot heading into the tough finale that included the same climb twice. Over the summit of the final ascent the 26 rider selection was made and it was the strong Katusha leadout that made the difference in the end. While Kris was 4th on the day, Eddy rolled in 12th giving us 2 riders right up there on GC.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
It was quite a hard day that included a chaotic finish. We did one climb twice in the final and there were about 25 riders in the front group, myself and Edvald included. After the final corner I was in a good position and I was feeling pretty good too in the sprint after my short break. I am looking forward to the rest of the week as the team is riding really well at the moment and we will try to win a stage with Edvald.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
The first stage of the Tour des Fjords ended with a good final by Kristian and Edvald was right up there for the GC as well. 6 riders broke away after 10km’s and then Katusha and Joker controlled most of the day. In the final circuit Edvald and Kristian were well positioned thanks to good supporting work done by the other guys leading into the climb.