Overall Ambitions Over for ORICA-GreenEDGE in Alberta; Stage Wins a Focus

Fri 6 Sep 2013

Aidis Kruopis has shown a return of form at the Tour of Alberta. The Lithuanian, who was forced to sit out from Tour du Poitou Charentes due to illness, sprinted to fourth on Thursday and represented ORICA-GreenEDGE in the break on Friday.

A two rider escape group contested the stage two win on Thursday. In the closing kilometres Peter Sagan (Cannondale) slipped away from the bunch to solo to third and maintain his race lead. Aidis Kruopis won the bunch kick, which proved good for fourth place.

“We would have been happy to get into a break on Thursday,” said White. “We actually thought the finish was too hard for Aidis. The guys tried to get in a number of moves, but none were the break of the day. I eventually lost count of our attempts. We had someone in a move with 12 riders that looked good for awhile, but the peloton never let them stretch their advantage.”

“After 100km of attacking with an average of 52kph for the first two hours of racing two guys got away,” White continued. “It would have been ideal to have someone in it, but most teams missed out.

The leading duo put in a strong ride to hold off the chasing field. BMC stagiaire Silvan Dillier outsprinted Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) to take the win in Red Deer.

“The teams looking for the stage win didn’t want to work with Cannondale,” noted White. “Cannondale left the chase too late if they wanted to close it down, which they didn’t seem inclined to do. The two young guys rode strong to stay away.”

“We didn’t do any chase work because we thought the circuit would be too hard for Aidis,” White added. “It wasn’t as hard as we thought. It was a lightening fast finish with speeds as high as 70kph.”

Kruopis showed that his improved form was no fluke when he rode himself into a large breakaway that formed in the second hour of racing on Friday. The group swelled to 18 riders including several overall contenders: Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), Robert Gesink (Belkin), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), Bobby Sweeting (5 Hour Energy/Kenda) and Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy/Kenda).

“We hit crosswinds about 10km into the stage,” White noted. “The winds split the peloton into three or four groups. The groups joined and split a few times until finally a group of 12 riders went away.”

“A group of six followed the 12,” White continued. “Aidis was in that group. The six caught the leaders, so there were 18 out front after that.”

The breakaway fractured over the second KOM. Kruopis was caught out and did his fair share of work in an attempt to catch back to the leaders.

“It split a long way from the finish,” White said. “A couple groups formed over the last KOM and eventually a distinct lead group and chase group took shape. Aidis was in the chase group. They worked hard to get back to the leaders. I think the gap was out to a minute at one point and that brought that back to 9” by the finish.”

Dennis won the six-up sprint to take the stage victory. Kruopis rolled across the line with the chase group in 16th place. The peloton, including Sagan, finished 16’48 behind Dennis, moving the young Australian into the race lead.

“Rohan is clearly the strongest guy in this race,” said White. “Peter Sagan in sprinting well but Rohan is stronger on the hillier terrain. It’s looking like he’s in a good position to win the first Tour of Alberta on Sunday.”

Kruopis is now the team’s best placed rider overall in 15th place, 6’06 behind Dennis. Pieter Weening and Cameron Meyer tumbled out overall contention after finishing in the bunch on Friday.

“There are now only 18 guys with any shot of winning this race, “ White said. “Really, there are about ten or so with any real chance. Ideally, we would have had one of our GC guys in the move today, but that’s wasn’t to be.”

“Any GC ambitions we had are done after today,” White added. “Aidis is a good guy to have here. He’s getting better every day, so we can work for him in the sprints. Tomorrow may be a good day for the break. Garmin should be happy to let a group down the road. Maybe we’ll be able to get Cam or Pete in the move tomorrow.”