Daily Diary: Brad Evans talks Tour des Fjords – Stage 5

By Aaron S Lee

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff secures race win with final stage victory, while Kiwi Brad Evans lights up the race with intermediate sprint and KOM wins.

STAVANGER, Norway—Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) can do no wrong in front of thousands of Norwegian fans who lined the roads of his native Stavanger to cheer the hometown hero and Olympian for the fifth and final stage of the 2016 Tour des Fjords on Sunday, September 4.

The 29-year-old Kristoff capped off the 166km ride from Hinna Park with his third stage win of the week – 11th all time (race record) – to earn his second overall victory in the race’s four-year history.

“It was my goal to win the race and it was great to win here,” said Kristoff. “My main goal was always general classification (GC) but it looked bleak during the third stage.

“When I made it and won stage 3, I then thought to myself I’m going to do this.”

 The day kicked off with a five-man break that quickly turned into seven, including Brad Evans (Drapac Pro Cycling), Audun Brekke Flotten (Ringeriks-Kraft), Kasper Asgreen (Virtu Pro-VéloConcept), Asmund Lovik (Team, Karel Hnik (Verva ActiveJet), the day’s most active rider recipient Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and the mountains classification winner Carl Fredrik Hagen (Sparebanken Sør), who was ultra aggressive this week in being five breaks in all five days.

The break lasted until 35km to go when Breen made the decision to go on the first of three trips up the Sørmarksbakken climb.

That attack lasted 20km before setting up a 15-rider sprint to the finish, which included Kristoff and race runner-up Michael Schar (BMC Racing), who initially slipped into GC contention after a fifth-place finish two days ago.

As for Evans, NZ Bike caught up with the 24-year-old South Island native and reigning Tour of Southland champion to talk about his impressive final ride at Fjords, which included two intermediate sprint wins, and a runner-up, as well as a KOM victory to kick off the day:

Evans’ diary entry: Stage 5 – Hinna Park to Stavanger, 166km
Finally had a day of brilliant sunshine. Fantastic scenery of rolling hills was just like being home in New Zealand. The plan all along was that I would go in the break today. I got two sprints, and took second in a third, plus won the first KOM of the day.

We started with five guys and took off at 15km going full gas. Two guys also eventually caught up to make it seven. We worked pretty good throughout, but were never given much leeway unfortunately, especially compared to yesterday's break.

We went really hard through the crosswind by the coast and even extended our lead. Near the three-lap circuit, the bunch started chasing hard and the gap came down considerably.

We started attacking each other in an effort to be last caught, as this guy would most likely win the ‘most aggressive’ jersey and a half tonne of salmon! The Fortuneo rider timed it well with his attack and got a gap, which grew quickly. We then got swept up and I rode it in to the finish.

Overall it was a great well-organised race with very passionate fans everywhere along the route rain, hail or shine. I think I’d definitely come back.
Until next time…
Brad Evans

Stage 5 Classification
1. Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha, 3:47:01
2. Michael Mørkøv, SUI, Team Katusha, s.t.
3. Kristoffer Halvorsen, Team Joker-Byggtorget, 0:03

General Classification
1. Alexander Kristoff, NOR, Team Katusha, 21:39:55
2. Michael Schar, SUI, BMC Racing Team, 0:30
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): Vegard Breen, NOR, Fortuneo-Vital Concept
Teams classification: Roompot-Oranje Peloton, 65:02:27

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