Eneco Tour: Svein Tuft time trials into the lead on stage six
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eneco Tour: Svein Tuft time trials into the lead on stage six

by Ben Atkins at 10:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Eneco Tour
Canadian champion seizes white jersey back for Orica-GreenEdge on penultimate day

Svein Tuft Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) won the sixth stage time trial of the 2012 Eneco Tour in Ardooie, Belgium, to take over the race leader’s white jersey. The Canadian champion managed to complete the flat 17.4km out and back circuit in a time of 20’25”, going five seconds quicker than the seemingly unbeatable time set earlier on by former US champion Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing).

Former Dutch champion Lars Boom (Rabobank) was third, a further second behind Phinney, putting himself second in the general classification, just four seconds behind Tuft.

Overnight race leader Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) lost 1’01” to Tuft, and seemingly his chances of taking the overall victory the next day. All was not lost for the Belgian team however, as French champion Sylvain Chavanel lost conceded just 20 seconds - having been fastest at the halfway point - and now sits third overall, just 16 seconds back.

"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.

"This morning when I did a little warm-up, I knew it was going to be a good ride," explained the Canadian. "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.

"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 realized 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 result set up the race for a big battle on the final day, where the stage would head into the hills of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, between the Orica-GreenEdge, Rabobank, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step teams.

Yet another flat stage as the peloton faces the clock

The stage was got under way by Adrian Saez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), but the Spanish rider’s decidedly underwhelming time of 23’03” was not going to be the best for very long. The first decent performance came from Rick Flens (Rabobank), with a time of 21’17”, but he was soon overhauled by Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) with 21’11”.

Giro d’Italia third place Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) came within a second of the Dutchman with 21’12” but, out on the course, Markel Irizar (RadioShack-Nissan) was flying. The Spaniard crossed the checkpoint, after 8.1km, in a time of 9’50”, and carried his speed to the finish to smash the best time; setting 20’57” for the rest to aim at.

Phinney was one second behind Irizar’s time at the halfway point, but the American - who picked up fourth place in both the recent Olympic road race and time trial, sped up in the second half to demolish the RadioShack-Nissan rider’s time and post what looked like an unbeatable 20’30”

Several riders were to come close to Phinney, with former Italian champion Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) finishing just 14 seconds back, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), just 13 seconds back. Riding his first competitive time trial since January, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) was just 3 seconds behind Irizar at halfway, but he couldn’t sustain his pace and finished 17 seconds behind Phinney.

Tuft then passed through the halfway check just nine-hundredths of a second slower than Irizar - and so marginally faster than Phinney - and was slightly quicker than the American in the second half to finish in 20’25”, to go five seconds quicker and take the lead.

Finally, somebody went quicker than Irizar at halfway, as Chavanel went just fractions of a second inside his time. The French champion’s teammate Boonen was not going so well however, and - at 10’14” - had already lost 24 seconds to Tuft by this point.

Boom crossed the line in provisional third in 20’31”, less than a second behind Phinney, but Chavanel slipped back in the second half of the stage to stop the clock in 20’45” to slot into sixth.

Boonen too was slower in the second half, and his time of 21’26” saw him losing 1’01” to Tuft, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s overall ambitions passing to his French teammate.

Result stage 6
1. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 5s
3. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank @ 6s
4. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 18s
5. Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-ISD @ 19s
6. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 20s
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank @ 22s
8. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge @ 26s
9. Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team @ 30s

Standings after stage 6
1. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank @ 4s
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 16s
4. Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 25s
5. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 37s
7. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 39s
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 47s
9. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team @ 48s
10. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank @ 49s


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