Three stage wins and overall Tour des Fjords victory for Alexander Kristoff
Alexander Kristoff continued his dominance of the sprits at Tour de Fjords, winning his stage of the race to seal the overall title for the second time in his career. The Katusha rider won stages 2, 3 and 5 to seal the overall 30 seconds ahead of BMC's Michael Schar and Dutchman Nick van der Lijke (Roompot - Oranje Peloton).
"We almost passed by house today and I know all of the roads in this area. My teammates did everything I wanted and did an amazing job, especially Anton Vorobyev and Dmitriy Kozonchuk who were pulling all day," Kristoff said of his 13th win in 2016. "In the end Michael Mørkøv and I continued on, too. Michael did a perfect lead out and it's good to see him in such great shape again. All this week we worked so hard for this and I'm just really happy right now."
Katusha dominated the final stage into Stavanger with Morkov finishing in second to cap off a successful week of racing in Norway for the Russian team. Sports director Torsten Schmidt explained the race played out like a dream and the six-rider team can be pleased with their consistency and performances.
"We can leave Norway really happy and proud for our six riders," Schmidt said. "They all did a fantastic job. From our winner Kristoff to the lead out guys, to the workers like Anton Vorobyev and Dima Kozonchuk, it was a really, really great week. We won three stages, the GC and the points jersey. Some of our adversaries were very strong and they were very well prepared, as were the Scandinavian teams who are always very motivated in this race. But on the long third stage with the rain, two climbs in the middle and then the impressive last 15 km with Alex, that was the key point. Today it’s nice and sunny, so to win on home roads with a nice lead out and second place for Mørkøv is very nice for the boys."
Gasparotto likely to leave Wanty
The 34-year-old winner of Amstel Gold Race has ridden for the Belgian outfit for the last two seasons and held talks with the current management last week. However with several offers on the table, including WorldTour teams, he looks set to move on.
"I had a meeting with the team management last week," he told Cyclingnews at the start of the Tour of Britain's stage 1 in Glasgow.
"Now I have a few offers and I'll decide soon what I want to do. I don't want to say anything until I've made my final decision but I'll be racing for another two years for sure."
When asked where he could move to next season, Gasparotto remained tight lipped.
"There are not so many Italian teams at the moment. I have a few offers, including some from WorldTour teams but we'll see. I think, actually, there's more percentage chance of me leaving."
Enrico Gasparotto during stage 1 of the Tour of Britain (TDW Sport)
Dowsett eyes time trial glory
The-27-year-old won a time trial stage in the Tour de Pologne last month but admits that his GC prospects in his home race will depend on his performances in the first few stages with the race taking in a number of tricky and hilly days.
"I'll know after stages 2 and 3 as to whether there's any chance of me riding for GC here. Even if there's not we have some really strong options here for GC with guys like Gorka [Izagirre]. Everyone can go well here," he told Cyclingnews.
"I'm excited that the time trial is back in the Tour of Britain. It looks like quite a good one for me as well because it's lumpy and quite technical."
Dowsett also has one eye on the World Championships in October with selection for the time trial not yet decided.
"The heat in the Worlds is going to be an issue. Historically I don't do that well in the heat but there's things that I can do to acclimatise," he added.
Kenny Elissonde holds onto Vuelta a Espana KOM lead
Having animated stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana, diminutive climber Kenny Elissonde again impressed on a summit finish as the FDJ rider finished fourth to secure a second day in the blue and white polka dot jersey. Elissonde, who won a stage of the Vuelta a in 2013, also improved his overall position from 24th to 19th as he leads Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) 56 to 48 points in the KOM classification.
"I did not know how I would feel after yesterday but I was motivated to snatch some points. It was a crazy scenario but it's still a great day. I paced myself in the climbs," Elissonde said according to the race communiqué.
While Elissonde enjoyed his second visit to the podium in as many days, the 25-year-old isn't expecting to wear the jersey all the way to Madrid with last year's winner of the classification, Fraile, and current race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) as his chief adversaries.
"The polka dot jersey is not a sure thing because of Quintana and Fraile, who is a brave rider who often manages to get into the break. We'll take it day by day," explained Elissonde.
The Frenchman suffered a knee injury at the end of last year, delaying his season start till April, and added that he is starting to again feel his best.
"After my knee surgery I stayed in Nice to get back into shape. Before the Tour of Switzerland I had improved already but I needed some time before it showed in races. I hope I achieved that in this Vuelta. I'm happy for Julien (Pinot, coach) and the team," he said.
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