Dries Van Gestel (Sport Vlaanderen) won the opening stage of the Tour des Fjords by winning a 4-man sprint to the line in Forde. Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy) was the stage runner up and 3rd place went to Hector Saez (Caja-Rural).
It was a cold and wet opening stage of the Tour des Fjords with riders taking on 189km from Balestrand to Forde. Two early climbs made the opening kilometers of the stage quite difficult and our African Team tried to take full advantage of the uphill gradients. Over the first climb of the day, a group of 20 riders got away and we had Serge Pauwels, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Jaco Venter in the move.
A lot of riders were able to come back on the descent and so our African Team decided to sit up and regroup. Then 5 riders got away and quickly built up a lead. With the gap at 6-minutes we began the chase with the hope that some other teams would join in. No help was forthcoming though and this allowed the breakaway to arrive at the finish with 25 seconds to spare.
Youcef Reguigui led the bunch home with a fast sprint but it would only be good enough for 5th on the day. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Serge Pauwels and Jaco Venter all also finished in the main bunch. Jay Thomson and Adrien Niyonshuti came in a few minutes down after doing all the hard work, chasing the break.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
It was an interesting stage today with some tough climbs early on. We knew the other teams would be looking at us today to do all the work so we tried to make it hard and get ahead of the race by attacking on the first climb. We wanted to create a small group that could go to the finish and it worked well in the begining. On top of the first climb we had Serge, Edvald and Jaco in a group of 20 riders. We sent Jaco to work with the Caja-Rural riders but unfortunately a lot of riders came back so we decided to slow down. The break of the day then went with 5 riders and due to a lack of information, they were able to get 6-minutes. As soon as we heard the time gap we started chasing but nobody would help us. When a few riders did come help, it was all too late and the break arrived with some seconds. It was a pity because Youcef won the sprint but it also showed we have two options for the sprint. The GC is also not lost because we got the gap down to just a few seconds and there are still many stages to go.