UAE Team Emirates’ Norwegian powerhouse, Alexander Kristoff, claimed his first victory of the season and the team’s 25th after winning stage 2 of the Deutschland Tour with a hard-fought uphill sprint finish, whilst teammate Matteo Trentin narrowly missed out on his own win in stage 13 at Vuelta Espana.
Kristoff looked in fine form throughout the 180.6km race in Germany, rising to the occasion as he often does in cold and wet conditions. The gruelling stage ended with a chaotic finale, however Kristoff’s fellow countryman Sven Erik Bystrom timed his lead out to perfection guiding the pair through the final two turns and dropping his fast man off with 300m to go. Kristoff faced immense pressure from Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), but managed to maintain his power to the line and pass Bauhaus at the last moment to clinch the win.
Kristoff said: “It is a beautiful victory that makes me happy. I have a good relationship with Germany, I have won here more than once, also winning in my last participation in the Deutschland Tour. On that occasion the weather conditions were similar to those of today. Although I am not fond of the cold and rain, I seem to achieve excellent performances in these conditions.”
I have been waiting a long time for a return to success. Up until now my season has not been good, even though I had already come close to winning at the Tour of Norway. Now I have finally managed to get a win. The end of the stage was very technical, it was essential to be at the final corner in the top 5. I managed to be in the right place and I also had Bystrøm with me to launch into the sprint.
I started the sprint first, then Bauhaus overtook me and I got on his wheel and then passed him near the finish line again.
The gap between the two of us wasn’t much, I wasn’t sure if I had won, then I saw the images of the sprint and I was able to celebrate properly”.
In the general classification, Pascal Ackermann still leads the race, while Kristoff moved up to 3rd place (+4 ”).
The third stage will start from Ilmenau and will end after 193.9 km in Erlangen: with a 1.5 km stretch (5.2% average gradient) located 9 km from the finish which could represent a springboard for some attacks.
Stage 2 results
1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 4h24’12 “
2. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) s.t.
3. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) s.t.
General classification after the 2nd stage
1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) 8h30’59 ”
2. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) +2 ”
3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) +4 “
Meanwhile in Spain, Matteo Trentin narrowly missed out on victory at the Vuelta España by just a few centimetres.
The 13th stage (Belmez-Villanueva de la Serena, 203.7 km), was an uncomplicated one on paper, though a flat but technical run-in to the line forced a split in the pack. With just over 2km to go until the finish, seventeen riders moved clear of the bunch with Matteo Trentin embedded among them. The Deceuninck-Quickstep team accelerated ahead in the final kilometres, reducing the leading group to seven riders, just before losing their designated sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen, due to a puncture.
On the straight that led to the finish line, the fight for success was reduced to a duel between Matteo Trentin and Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-Quickstep), with the latter a fraction faster than the UAE Team Emirates rider, who had to settle for second.
The general classification continues to be led by Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty), with UAE Team Emirates’ David De La Cruz best placed in 15th at 7’15 “.
Trentin: “The ending, as expected, was not easy. It was essential to remain in the leading positions when approaching the roundabout located 3.5 km from the finish, but I was unable to hit the corner the way I wanted and had to use a lot of energy to make up ground. From that moment on, I struggled at every corner, finding myself having to recover ground each time and then paying for my efforts in the sprint. It’s a shame, but I finally got close and I’ll try again at the next opportunity “.
On the 14th stage (165.7 km from Don Benito to Pico Villuercas) the riders will climb again with the 3rd category Puerto Berzocana, the 1st category Alto Collado de Ballesteros and the final uphill finish (1st category, 14 km at 6.3%).
Order of arrival 13th stage – Vuelta España
1. Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-Quickstep) 4h58’23 ”
2. Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
3. Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) +2 ”