The Queen stage of the Tour of Norway ran its course today with the finish at the summit of the cat 1 Budor Ski Station climb. Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) was the rider who would take out the win with Gustav Larsson (IAM Cycling) in 2nd and Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) 3rd. In a stage where Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were not expecting to feature all that much, Gerald Ciolek put on an impressive display of climbing to finish the stage in 10th place.
The 181km stage saw 4 riders escape from the bunch early on. Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport), Christer Jensen (Motiv3), Jan Karlsson (Ringeriks Kraft) and Amund Groendahl (Sparenbanken Sør) were the 4 aggressors, although once he had mopped up the sprint points for the day, Van Asbroeck returned to the peloton. As the race went on, Karlsson would later attack the other 2 riders to lead the race solo but only until 19km to go, when he was then reeled in.
Just before the final 15km climb of the day, Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC Polsat), Stef Clement (Belkin), Vanmarcke, Groendahl and Smukulis jumped clear of the peloton. The 5 riders quickly built up a lead of 44 seconds and it was only at 6 km to go that Larsson and Branislau Samoilau (CCC Polsat) would then join the leaders. Groendahl, and Samoilau would soon fade away and Marycz would also be distanced near the end as the remaining quartet decided the stage. Behind, what was left of the peloton, decided the minor positions with our sprinter Ciolek taking 10th.
Directeur Sportif – Manel Lacambra
In general it was a good day for us. We where trying to keep the team around Gerald because we knew he is feeling good at the moment and we believed he could do well on the climbs too. It was a hard day always up and down, cross wind, raining, etc. but the guys did a good job. When the last attack went we only had Tsgabu with Gerald in the first group but he did everything possible to try to close the gap to the break. With only 4 riders here we couldn’t do much better and a top 10 today for Gerald was very good. Tomorrow will be the hardest stage but it will be another chance to win a stage. Gerald is still siting just 24s from the leader jersey.
Rider – Gerald Ciolek
From the profile the climb didn’t look too hard so i knew if i had good legs today there was a chance i could finish in the front. Still, to finish 10th on a 12k mountaintop finish was hard. Maybe i can go for the Mountains jersey at La Vuelta (laughs).
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