Pieter Weening (Roompot) won the 2nd stage of the Tour of Norway, crossing the line alone with Sondre Holst Enger (Norway) and Odd Christian Eiking (Norway) taking the remaining two podium positions 46 seconds later.
It was a long 211km stage today, with a category 1 climb that peaked with 19km to go. The climb would be the main feature of the stage and although there was an early 5 rider break during the stage, they were caught on the lower slopes of the climb. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding to support and deliver Edvald Boasson Hagen to the climb in a good position and the African Team did so efficiently.
Natnael Berhane did some particularly good work, being Boasson Hagen’s last man on the climb. Attacks started to fly on the climb and Berhane set a good tempo to keep most of them at bay. When a number of key riders decided to make a move near the top of the climb, Boasson Hagen followed.
It was a select group that went over the top of the climb, Boasson Hagen included. As the riders began the descent, Weening got a gap and the group all looked to our Norwegian champion to chase despite our African Team having done all the work from well before the climb already. Boasson Hagen accelerated hard as the race flew downhill with the rest of the chasers sitting his wheel.
The gap was just 25 seconds with 10km to go but the 8 other riders in the chase group were still not willing to assist with the chase. Eventually, Boasson Hagen had to sit up and the gap ballooned to near on a minute with 3km to go. The chasers seemed to have no interest in racing for the win and so Weening took the stage and overall race lead. Boasson Hagen crossed the line 9th as the chase group sparked to life in the sprint for the minor placings. Boasson Hagen now sits 4th on GC, 53 seconds down on Weening.
Oli Cookson – Sport Director
It was a very long and hard stage that went up into the heartland of Norway. It was a really hard start as they averaged over 50km/h for the first hour of racing and the break only formed after the first intermediate sprint, which Edvald won. The break went with a few strong riders and One Pro kept the gap around 4 and a half minutes. After the feedzone we sent a guy to help pace along with Caja-Rural and the gap started to come down. From 160km to 180km the plan was to really protect Edvald on the false flat as we knew the course from the year before. On the big climb the first 3km was really hard and this is when the main split happened. It was also open and windy which made it that much harder. The race was completely split there and Natnael was pulling really well. In the end there was a small group at the top and Weening jumped away from around 9 riders. There wasn’t much organisation in the chase and the strongest man went on to win. The team rode well, they looked after Eddy really well, had a good plan at the start to get the sprint and then helped with the chase before positioning Eddy for the climb. So the guys did a good race.