The 3rd stage of the Tour des Fjords would allow Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) to secure his hatrick of wins, with nobody able to come over the race leader in the sprint finale. Daryl Impey (Orica-Greenedge) was his nearest challenger in 2nd with our Edvald Boasson Hagen next up in 3rd.
Eddy was probably the fastest finishing rider as he went from about 10th to 3rd in the final 150m but Kristoff and Impey were just a meter or two too far ahead. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung surely put on the best show of the day as a full “team attack” with 25km to go would set the race alight, this even though it was pouring rain once again.
The move that resembled the unity of a synchronized swimming team came when there was a lone leader 2’00” up the road. Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) was the sole escapee but originally the early break was comprised of 4 riders, with our Nic Dougall also forming part of the quartet. Nevertheless, the plan was to make the racing tough back in the peloton and Valgren was soon caught after MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung turned up the heat.
A few attacks by Eddy and Jaco Venter really put the pressure on the peloton and in the end it was only around 40 odd riders that could withstand the onslaught. Coming into the final, Jaco would drop off Eddy and Kristian Sbaragli in good shape for the final kilometer. Two sketchy corners after the red kite saw Eddy and Kris lose a few spots with 400m to go. Both MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders then put their heads down with Eddy taking 3rd and Kris 9th.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
We tried to make the racing really hard today, hoping to tire out Kristoff a bit but he was very strong again. I lost a few positions in the final corner and was just too far back to really go for the win. The team was really good in the final kilometers, we upped the tempo as much as we could before the climb and then attacked on the gradient as well. This was part of our plan for the day so it was good that we executed it nicely.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
We knew it will be a difficult start with the climb into a tunnel and we saw this by how the peloton split into many smaller groups. Edvald was in the front group of 17 riders and Katusha and Trek had to chase down for 35km. Once the group was back we kept on attacking until Nic made it in a break of 4 riders. Later, on the climb with 25km to go we increased the tempo and tried several attacks with Edvald and Jaco. Finally a small group of 40 riders came to the finish together with Edvald ending 3rd. This allowed us to get 4 bonus seconds and move up on GC. I am very happy with our performance and commitment on today’s stage.