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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Pieter Weening (Orica - GreenEDGE)
Dutchman builds for WorldTour races at Tour of Alberta
The Dutch winner of this year's Tour of Poland said before the stage race started that he was hoping the winds that blow across the southern Alberta plains would split the peloton and give the other general classification riders a chance to unseat race leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
“If there are winds, OK, then there are winds,” Weening told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 2 in Devon. “But if it stays like this, you know, we have a sprinter on the team so we can also go for bunch sprints.”
Despite the lack of strong cross winds on Thursday, Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) sneaked off the front after the second intermediate sprint and stayed away to the finish in Red Deer, where Dillier took the two-up sprint. Weening's Lithuanian teammate, Aidis Kroupis, finished second to Sagan in the bunch sprint to take fourth.
Weening also tried to gain a little ground on Sagan during the stage. With the group still together heading into the second intermediate sprint of the day, Weening hit out for it and cut two seconds off his time by finishing second. It played out pretty much how he said it would before the stage started.
“If the opportunity is there, yes,” Weening said when asked if he would try for the bonus sprints. “But you know if you go for intermediate time bonuses it means that you have to be in the early breakaways, and I don't think they let guys go from the GC. That's going to be pretty hard, so I don't think I will spend much energy on that. It's nice to gain one or two places, but if you were to lose one or two, yeah, shit happens.”
Although Weening picked up two seconds there, Sagan got a four-second time bonus at the finish and opened up a two-second gap on the field at the line. So despite Weening getting the two-second bump at the second intermediate sprint, he lost four seconds to the overall leader and remains in sixth place. It was a case of one step forward and two steps back.
Nonetheless, Weening said his ultimate goal for the Canadian tour is to fine tune his form for the WorldTour races later this month at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec on September 13 and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on September 15.
“Every race you do you try to get better out of it,” he said. “When you finish the race you hope in the next one to be better. So the main goal is those other two Canadian races.
“But I'm also still top six in GC,” Weening continued. “And in this race there are still [three] days to go, and a lot of things can happen still. So we will also try to defend GC of course, but if the weather stays like this I think it will be pretty difficult to beat Sagan.”