Nicki Sørensen chasing third Grand Tour stage win in 2013
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Nicki Sørensen chasing third Grand Tour stage win in 2013

by VeloNation Press at 5:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Danish veteran has chance to complete rare treble in Spain, France and Italy

Nicki SorensenNow 37 years of age, Nicki Sørensen knows that his career is inching towards a close but has set himself a good goal for 2013; in addition to his regular team duties with Team Saxo – Tinkoff, he is determined to complete a hat trick of stage wins in the Grand Tours.

Sørensen took the first part of that triple back in 2005 when he won stage 18 of the Vuelta into historic Avila. Four years later he soloed into Vittel on stage twelve of the Tour de France, hitting the line 48 seconds clear of Laurent Lefevere plus four others, and having plenty of time to celebrate.

Now another four years later, he’s psyched to complete that set in the months ahead. “For the next season my big goal will be the Giro where, besides helping Rafa (Majka) in the GC, I will try to go for a stage win,” he said, naming what will be his top season target.

“I believe that Rafa can make a good result in the overall standings if he continues his progress and takes another step up. But I'm looking forward to getting my own chance too. It would be great to take a Giro victory when I have wins in both the Tour and the Vuelta.”

Sørensen and the rest of his Team Saxo – Tinkoff team-mates are waiting to learn if they will be given a UCI ProTeam licence or not. The Danish squad is one of five which is fighting for three available places in the top-ranked WorldTour series, and could find out as soon as today if it is successful or if it will have to rely on wildcard entries to the top races.

The team is affected by a ruling about riders returning from a long ban not being eligible to have their points considered for the UCI’s hierarchy of teams; had Saxo - Tinkoff been in the top fifteen rather than twentieth in those standings, it would have almost certainly secured its place. However with Alberto Contador’s points not being counted, the team must wait and see what the UCI decides.

Contador aside, Sørensen believes that the team would have had more points if it wasn’t affected by misfortune at certain points in 2012. “I experienced a year in which we didn't have much luck,” he said. “Some of the strongest and obviously the riders who were expected to win races this year were out of competition for longer periods of the year due to injuries and other mishaps. But finally, we got a grip on things and finally we showed ourselves as a very strong and homogeneous team able to win the big races.”

He himself helped add to the list of wins, grabbing success in his final race of the year, the Italian GP Beghelli. He attacked alone there and reached the finish twelve seconds clear of the next four riders. It was a huge morale boost at the end of a long, draining season, and put him in the perfect frame of mind heading into winter training.

“The result I'm most proud of is my victory in the GP Beghelli. It was my last race of the season and my first professional victory in Italy, which kind of has become my second home outside Denmark,” he said. “Therefore, it meant a lot to me to take the victory on home soil.”

He was also psyched by what happened in the Vuelta a España. With just days left before the finish in Madrid, it looked like Joaquim Rodriguez had the race sewn up; his Team Saxo – Tinkoff colleague Contador had tried several times to wrest the red leader’s jersey from his compatriot’s shoulders but been flicked away each time.

One last attack did the trick, though, with Rodriguez suffering a bad day on stage 17 to Fuente Dé. “The biggest surprise was probably Alberto's dedicated attack on the stage where he practically won the Vuelta this year,” said Sørensen, thinking back to that seventeenth leg of the race. “No one expected him to launch an early attack and he took Rodriguez by surprise.

“Alberto never gives up. It is one of his strengths and it rubs off on the rest of the team. Therefore his presence on the team provides everyone with more energy.”

Contador is not expected to ride the Giro d’Italia; this is something which will likely give Sørensen more freedom, and therefore the chance to chase that third Grand Tour stage win.

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