Svein Tuft is known for his dependable ability to sit at the front of the peloton, ticking over a steady pace while his team leader’s sit comfortable in the bunch but he’s no simple work-horse. He’s one of Orica-GreenEdge’s most trusted front-men and yet it’s his ability in the time trial that nets him and his team the most success. The win during Eneco Tour's stage six TT is his third individual victory of the year.
"This morning when I did a little warm-up, I knew it was going to be a good ride. With how good I felt, I knew if I put everything down that I had, I could be in contention for a top three on the stage," said Tuft.
He’s shown his strength against the clock already this year when his team won the TTT at Tirreno-Adriatico’s while recently winning the Canadian national TT championships and the TT at Tour de Beauce. Tuft was part of the five riders who, earlier in the week crossed the line to win the stage 2 TTT. It was the team's win during stage 2 that set him up to also take the overall lead from Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) heading into the final stage.
"When I came across the line and saw my time, I was pretty surprised," said Tuft. "I was hoping to have a really good time trial, but I didn’t expect to be in the leader’s jersey at this point in the race. It’s a great feeling," he said.
The out and back course suited the strength of Tuft who had performed an all-important reconnaissance earlier in the morning. Weather conditions played a big factor in how Tuft would tackle the 17.4km course and he rode it to perfection, edging out BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney by 5 seconds.
A lot of riders put an emphasis on the first half of the course," he continued. "We went out in a headwind section and returned with a tailwind. They might not have realised it was difficult coming back as well. I still had a good amount of gas in the tank for the second half of the effort, and I think that’s where I made up quite a bit of time."
The seventh and final stage of the Eneco Tour is by no means a procession. The course features a number of short and sharp climbs which will no doubt make the finale difficult for teams to control. However, Tuft believes his team has options if he isn’t up to the task of defending his lead.
"We’re in a really good position with four riders in the top six. This gives us a lot to play with, and they’re all really strong guys," he said. "We have options when we have numbers on our side. I’m expecting a good battle."
"Sunday's race will be tough, but I'm confident. I'm in great shape, I know the course pretty well and I'm surrounded by a strong team."