Daily Diary: Brad Evans talks Tour des Fjords – Stage 3

By Aaron S Lee

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff doubles up and moves into lead, while Kiwi Brad Evans tells NZ Bike about his cold, wet day in the saddle.

SULDALSOSEN, Norway—Local hero Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) made it two in a row after chasing down a three-man break to claim stage 3 (221km) in a sprint finish at Tour des Fjords (UCI 2.1) in Suldalsosen, Norway, on Friday, September 3.

The 2014 race winner outsprinted Dutchman Nick van der Lijke (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and German Jonas Koch (Verva ActiveJet), both of whom helped the 29-year-old Norwegian bridge the gap to catch the remnants of a seven-man break.

“The pack was not really strong enough to catch back and over the top I tried to keep the speed and then sprinted a little bit on the descent,” Kristoff told NZ Bike. “At the bottom I saw I had a gap and I just kept on going. Two guys managed to bridge up and then me and the ActiveJet guy, who was also doing a good job and doing strong pulls, managed to come back and I was really happy when I saw the time go down.

“In the sprint I was the strongest, but I had to go from the front so it’s not ideal,” he continued. “Normally I should beat them in the sprint anyway, no matter the position I start.”
Dutchman Pieter Weening (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and two BMC riders Michael Schar (SUI) and Damiano Caruso (ITU) were all that remained from an initial seven-man break launched at the 68km mark before the first of two climbs, including Røldalsfjellet, which rises from 100m to 1130m in elevation on a narrow, rarely used carriage road before descending steeply into the fog and ascending Kringletjørn (981m) just 9km later.

“It was a terrible day out there,” said Shar, who was named the ‘most active rider’ on the day. “It was really cold and rainy up in the mountains. We tried to open up the race because we have no chance to sprint against Kristoff.

“Damiano and I gave all we had all day long, but unfortunately with 3km to go he caught us, and after 220km you are on empty with nothing else to give.”

With the win, Kristoff lifts the yellow leaders jersey from stage 1 winner Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) and enjoys a 20-second lead on general classification (GC) over Shar with two stages remaining.

“I am very happy with the win today and to take the jersey,” said Kristoff. “It’s my home race, but still not in my home city. The last two days are in my home training ground (Stavanger) and I know every corner, so I look forward to racing there.”

Closer to home, Australian-registered UCI Professional Continental team Drapac Pro Cycling continued its march to the finish after a 10th place finish on stage 3 from Aussie Adam Phelan. Although the team is now two riders down with two stages to go, NZ Bike caught up with New Zealand’s own Brad Evans to get his thoughts on yet another rainy day in Norway.

Evans’ diary entry: Stage 3 – Ulvik to Suldalsosen, 221km
What a day. Six hours in the rain.

It was cold, but I had plenty of gear on and dealt with it pretty well. But by the end, even I was like ‘damn, how much more rain is even possible.’ It just poured the whole stage.

Both climbs were at a solid pace. I was in the main peloton on each supporting our leader on the day – Adam Phelan (AUS). On the top of the second climb I got my feedbag and that turned out to be a mistake. Lost some positions taking food on board, and on the descent the bunch split and it was game over for me.

Still had to ride pretty hard to the finish with 30 guys over at least three 5km climbs. By the sounds of it Kristoff just absolutely ripped it to bridge to breakaway. Phelan said it was an ‘attack-fest’ in the last 40km.

Tomorrow should suit us better, but we have lost two guys already, which will only make things harder.

Until next time, stay tuned…
Brad Evans

Stage 3 Classification
1. Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha, 5:38:58
2. Nick van der Lijke, NED, Roompot-Oranje Peloton, s.t.
3. Jonas Koch, GER, Verva ActiveJet, s.t.

General Classification
1. Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha, 13:52:47
2. Michael Schar, SUI, BMC Racing Team, 0:20
3. Nick van der Lijke, NED, Roompot-Oranje Peloton, s.t.

Classification Winners
Race Leader (Uno X Yellow Jersey): Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha
Points Leader (Coop Blue Jersey): Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha
Mountains leader (Santader Polkadot Jersey): Carl Fredrik Hagen, NOR, Team Sparebanken Sør
Best Young Rider (Repsol White Jersey): Nick van der Lijke, NED, Roompot-Oranje Peloton
Most Active Rider (Salmon Jersey): Michael Schar, SUI, BMC Racing Team
Teams classification: Roompot-Oranje Peloton, 41:40:25

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to NZ Bike Magazine.  Image Credit: Mario Stiehl.
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